Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Delayed subsidies and benefits

Marisa Micallef (The Times of Malta, June 9) is so right to point out that “when you are genuinely homeless and have no cash, help can’t arrive six months in arrears”. However, this does not only concern rent subsidies. Here are some other similar cases:
A jobless person who, for some reason or another, has his or her benefits cut off will not receive any benefits if not six months later.

If a person who had been receiving benefits for the jobless is regularly employed, the benefits will be cut off. All well and good. But if, for some reason or other, that person’s employment is terminated, benefits will not arrive before six months. He or she will then receive six months benefits in arrears.

The same goes for jobless and/or homeless persons who are released from prison. No benefits will be forthcoming during the following six months. The full amount is paid in arrears six months after release.

There may be cases of abuse in all of these areas but genuine cases certainly exist too, and the absurdity of this system condemns many people to a state of destitution. Isn’t it ludicrous that people in need are expected to eat for the preceding six months? How can people released from prison be expected to re-integrate into society without a cent to go by for six whole months?
These policies are in dire need of change. They are ridiculous and pitiless. My colleagues and I have worked (and very often sustained financially and materially) many people―most of them young―who have been victims of such ill-advised policies.

I submit that it is high time that the competent authorities revise them thoroughly and come up with better and more humane procedures.

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