This week the Falkland Islands Executive Council, ExCo approved a paper which looks to support our community with the increased cost of living. The current programs which support those in need have been reviewed and targeted changes will be made to them. A new temporary scheme has also been developed to assist households with rising fuel and electricity prices.
The following changes have been approved for existing programs:
• Income Support: From 1 November 2022, basic income support allowances will receive a one-time increase of 3.3% to account for higher inflation. A review will be undertaken to determine how inflation is incorporated into the income support budget in future. In addition, from 1 November 2022, the amount that can be earned before income support benefits are reduced will be increased from £184/month to £220/month, allowing for approximately 30hrs of work at minimum wage rates.
Family Allowance: Following the adoption of relevant legislation, this allowance will be extended to families who have been resident in the Falkland Islands for three years. This allowance will continue to be available to families of Status or PRP holders.
• Winter Fuel Allowance: Beginning 1 June 2023, access to this Winter Fuel Allowance will be expanded to all Income Support recipients. Recipients are required to have been living in their home between 1 June and 30 September in the year the allowance is claimed. This allowance will continue to run annually from June to September. This allowance will continue to be available to pensioners with an income below £17,925 (£18,645 for a partial allowance) and anyone who receives attendance allowance at the medium or high rate.
A temporary Household Power and Fuel Allowance scheme was also approved and will be available from 1 December 2022 to 31 May 2023. This is designed to insulate households on low and middle incomes against rising fuel and electricity prices. An allowance of £140/month (£840 for 6 months) will be payable to households with annual income up to approximately £43,200, with a partial allowance payable to those within a few hundred pounds of this threshold.
Guidance regarding the details of the temporary Household Power and Fuel Allowance, including instructions for making an application, is being developed and will be published in the coming weeks.
Chair of the Legislative Assembly, MLA John Birmingham said: “We have all seen how the increased cost of living is affecting our lives. It is vital that we as a government can help those in need in our community and, by adopting these targeted measures, we will help even more members of our community during this difficult time. A lot of thought is going into making sure that the process for applications is as simple as possible, and to ensure that we don’t inadvertently exclude people who need help from being eligible to apply. As mentioned in the Islands Plan, ’we will aspire to improve the standards of living for the community’ and this package will help us move forward with that aspiration. I encourage anyone in our community to reach out for help if you need it. The help and support is there and the first step is to ask for help.”
For information on the existing support programs visit this website.