The Committee for Employment & Social Security has produced its annual report on non-contributory benefit rates. This report covers benefits that are funded by taxation, including income support, family allowance, severe disability benefit and carer’s allowance. These benefits are routinely increased in line with RPIX each year.
The June 2020 RPIX figure was 2.4%. The Committee is proposing that all non-contributory benefits are uprated by this amount for 2020.
The Committee is also proposing to increase the income support benefit limitation from £850 to £890 per week. This is the maximum amount that a family can receive in aggregate, when combining earnings, other benefits and income support. There are twenty one families who are affected by the current benefit limitation, meaning that the household does not get the amount of income necessary to avoid poverty.
Deputy Peter Roffey, President of the Committee for Employment & Social Security, said: “While we are of course disappointed that we can’t do more for people who are, by the States’ own definition, living in poverty, we recognise that this is not the time to be proposing large increases in expenditure. But, we must do everything we can to reduce the number of Guernsey children who are forced to live in poverty because of the benefit limitation. That’s why we’re proposing nearly a 5% increase in the cap for 2021. This will at least help some families get closer to having the income they need.”
The Committee is also proposing an above-inflation increase in the personal allowance payable to income support claimants living in Guernsey care homes, taking it from £36 to £40 per week. The allowance is for personal items that a care home resident may need from time to time, and can enable them to participate in activities or pay for small gifts, hairdressing or newspapers, for example.
The policy letter will be debated at the same meeting as the States’ budget in December.