The government has launched a COVID-19 Income Support Programme which is geared towards supporting vulnerable individuals and families experiencing economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was revealed in a media release from the Ministry of Health and Social Development which said the initiative was jointly implemented by the Social Development Department, the World Food Programme and Caribbean Cellular Telephone (CCT).

The ministry also said that the programme includes support from the “UN COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, the United Nations Resident Coordinator Office for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Multi-Country Office.”      

Temporary cash transfer initiative

Speaking on the initiative was Deputy Social Development Officer and Programme Lead Coordinator, Stacie Stoutt-James who explained that the programme is a temporary cash transfer initiative that will offer support to those who have experienced a loss, reduction, or termination of employment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said, ““We recognise that persons may need specific assistance so we have offered a few options in this regard. We would like that when registration opens on June 28, that persons have all the necessary documentation ready and at hand so they can either WhatsApp to assigned numbers, email or upload the same to complete their applications in a timely manner and incomplete applications will not be accepted.”

Who is eligible?

The ministry outlined the criteria that interested persons must fulfil in order to be deemed eligible for the programme.

“Eligible persons must be BVI Citizens, Belongers or valid Work Permit or Work Permit Exemption holders. In addition, applicants must meet the following criteria which is to be continually employed within the Territory from September 1, 2019 to March 11, 2020;  be currently unemployed or underemployed which is less than 35 working hours; be available to work; be between the ages of 17 to 65; have not received assistance from the BVI Social Security Board Unemployment/Underemployment benefit; and have not received support through other government-led COVID-19 income support programmes, including support provided by elected representatives,” the ministry explained.

Documents to be submitted

The ministry further outlined a number of guidelines for qualified applicants to follow to allow the proper submission of documents.

These include the submission of termination of service or lay-off forms from the previous employers. If such forms are unavailable, applicants are advised to submit a termination letter or note including the contact information of the employer. 

Self-employed individuals

In the media release, specifics were also outlined for self-employed applicants who are termed to be the only employee on the business payroll with no other person being employed.

“Self-employed applicants must submit a valid trade licence, in addition to any two of the following: the last three business receipts which demonstrate purchases related to their business from February to March 2020; any relevant association membership letter (such as BVI Chamber of Commerce); or any other documentation which demonstrates that they’ve worked in the relevant sector as a self-employed person (Certificate of Good Standing, such as SSB Certificate or Inland Revenue Certificate).”

Informal workers

In addition, specifics were outlined for Informal workers who are classified as self-employed persons who are not on payroll, are not taxed and do not pay social security contributions.

To be deemed eligible, such applicants need to submit a notarised letter from a pastor or an elected representative indicating the type of business and period of operation. 

Two registration options

Persons will be presented two registration options. The first, through the government’s website and the second, by telephone of which a number will be forthcoming within the coming days.

Registration will commence from Monday June 28 and run until Friday July 9 on Mondays to Fridays, between the hours of 8am and 5pm.