Concern about the delay of key Social Security projects
23rd February 2022
The Minister for Social Security's Quarterly Public Hearing with the Health and Social Security Scrutiny Panel has highlighted concerns about delay of key Social Security projects.
The Minister could not confirm when the transfer of funds from the Health Insurance Fund (HIF) into the Consolidated Fund to pay for the Jersey Care Model would occur, despite the fact that this funding was spent in 2021 and the transfer of Tranche 1 was scheduled for the first quarter of 2022. Other important Social Security projects, such as the reform of Jersey's "rigid" incapacity benefits system and the yet to be published review relating to financial independence in old age, will remain on the agenda for action and consideration by the next Government after being significantly delayed by the pandemic.
In addition, the following key findings arose from the hearing:
- Demand for the Covid-19 helpline has reduced to 500-700 calls per day.
- The Minister provided assurance that support measures for the pandemic, such as the Covid-19 isolation benefits, could be reintroduced quickly if necessary.
- 810 Islanders are registered as 'Actively Seeking Work' but 290 of those are still working part-time. Of the 300 people who are registered as unemployed long-term, 170 have not had any form of work for over 12 months.
- The Covid-19 Children's Dental Scheme, which was due to end in June 2022, may be extended to ensure that more eligible secondary school children can benefit.
- A benefits scheme which operates in different languages has been considered, however the Panel were informed that this would be difficult to sustain.
Chair of the Health and Social Security Panel, Deputy Mary Le Hegarat, said "This public hearing raised concerns about the delay of key projects within the Minister for Social Security's remit. We accept that the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the progression and completion of work, however, we are concerned about the number of important projects which are yet to be finished and will ultimately become the responsibility of the next Government. The Panel was, however, pleased to receive positive updates about the recent reduced demand on the Covid-19 helpline and that the number of people registered as 'Actively Seeking Work' in Jersey is at an all-time low."
The Panel's final Quarterly Public Hearing with the Minister for Social Security before this term of office ends will take place in April.
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