Welfare payouts top $18m

Tuesday September 12, 2017 Written by Published in Local

The Cook Islands’ government is now paying out more than $18 million a year in welfare benefits.

 

The benefits include the 12 beneficiary payments provided by Ministry of Internal Affairs, including the old age pension, the child benefit, the infirm and destitute and caregivers’ benefits, new born and maternity allowance, the funeral allowance, the Christmas bonus and the power subsidy.

The ministry pays out $18,336,410 in Payments on behalf of the Crown (POBOC) and administered funding for welfare payments for the 2017/18 financial year.

The old age pension for residents 60 years and over tops welfare payments for 2017/18 at $6,429,915.

It’s followed by the old age pension payment for those 70 years and over which is valued at $5,851,370.

Pensioners between the age of 60 and 69 years collect $500 a month while pensioners 70 years and over get $660 a month.

Child benefit payments total $4,036,832 - third highest on the welfare payments list for 2017/18, while the allowance for new born children stands at $200,000.

Until they reach 12, children receive $100 a month through the child benefit. One hundred dollars a month is allocated for those eligible for the child benefit disability extension which applies to youngsters aged 12-16. This was a new initiative in this year’s Budget.

Ministry of Internal Affairs acting secretary Paul Allsworth said the payments passed by Parliament took care of the peoples’ welfare needs.

The Cook Islands had a unique social welfare beneficiary system, he added.

“It is specific and needs driven by the many demands from our community and society as a whole.

“In fact, we are the envy of the Pacific region, as no other Pacific Island country has this social welfare system for its people.

“The Kingdom of Tonga intends to send two senior officials to look at our welfare system and possibly other Pacific Islands countries will follow suit.”

Meanwhile, the ministry will hold the first-ever National Welfare Stocktake Workshop in November, aiming to attract as many beneficiaries and members of the public as it can.

Allsworth said the workshop’s aim was to review all beneficiary payments since their introduction and to come up with recommendations for the future.          - RK

Payments – POBOC Funding for Welfare Payments 2017/18 – Old age pension 60+ $6,429,915, Old age pension 70+ $5,851,370, Child benefit $4,036,832, New born allowance $200,000, Destitute and infirmed $528,000, Maternity $150,000, Carer order payment $10,400, BCI fees $147,000; Administered Funding for Welfare Payments 2017/18 – Caregivers $356,400, Christmas bonus $277,293, Funeral assistance $170,000, Power subsidy $79,200, Special assistance $100,000

Monthly payments (per month) – Old age pension 60-69 $500, Old age pension 70+ $660, Child benefit 0-12 years $100, Child benefit disability extension 12-16 years $100, Infirm payment $200, Destitute payment $200, Caregivers allowance $165 (one off), Newborn allowance $1000, Maternity leave payment $1680, Funeral Allowance $2400 (OAP), $600 (CHB), $1200 (INF/DEST), Christmas bonus $50, Power subsidy $66 (3 months)   

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