Some worry how they will make it as govt lowers unemployment assistance

Nedra Adderley, 35, a mother of two, has been furloughed since March 22, 2020.

Her ability to cover daily expenses is dependent on weekly payments from the government’s unemployment assistance program.

“I am very displeased with the way we are being treated,” Adderley said.

On Wednesday, Minister of Public Service and National Insurance Brensil Rolle told The Nassau Guardian that the program’s weekly unemployment payments will decrease from $150 to $100 as of today. 

The government gave weekly payments of $200 when the program started in March; it decreased the payments to $150 on July 1.

Adderley said she was able to manage “OK” when the payments were $200.

“Since the decrease, it’s been a bit more difficult,” she said.

“I pay for rent. Apart from rent, water is a huge necessity since we are enforcing hand washing and then there is electricity, which we need more now than ever. Since the kids are doing virtual school at home, in order for that to happen the internet also is needed…

“At present, we are receiving $150 per week and we are being paid bi-weekly. How does $600 a month pay rent, water, electricity and internet? We haven’t even gotten to groceries, drinking water or cooking gas as yet.”

Adderley said the current financial situation is surreal.

She said it feels like she’s watching “a horror movie”.

“They are saying they want to decrease the payments to $100 per week,” she said.

“How does the government and Mr. Brensil Rolle expect us to survive off of $400 a month and still maintain the necessary conditions for our kids to function in?”

The payments, which are issued by the government through the National Insurance Board (NIB), are for individuals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It gives 13 weeks of support to individuals who have already received the legal limit of 13 weeks of unemployment benefit from NIB.

It also extends the unemployment assistance program set up to cover those who would not normally qualify for the benefit.

Tamika Burrows, 33, a single mother of four, has requested unemployment assistance from the government.

She said she has not heard back yet.

“I depend on the national food agency and they help me on Fridays, so that’s what I’m living off right now,” she said.

Burrows said the $100 per week would “not really” do much for her, “but it’s a help”.

“If I was to get $400 a month from them, it would be a big help for me,” she said.

“It would help pay my bills and keep food [on the table] for my children and other little stuff.”

Samuel Morgan, 39, a former employee of Atlantis, has been unemployed since 2017.

He said he is not receiving government assistance.

However, he believes it was “bad” for the government to decrease the weekly payment.

“Plenty people have nothing to eat and need to pay their bills,” Morgan said.

“It’s very sad.”

He said he does not believe the $400 monthly payment will go very far for many families.

Morgan said he is thankful for his mother and two sisters who have been assisting him throughout the pandemic.

Roughly 25,000 people are benefitting from the government’s unemployment assistance program.

Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest has said the continuation of the program will cost the government $45 million.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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