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Social assistance policy to be ‘overhauled' on St. Maarten

THURSDAY, 08 DECEMBER 2011

PHILIPSBURG–Government will be “overhauling” its social assistance policy to make it easier for persons such as the elderly and mentally challenged to apply for and renew their medical and financial aid.
Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams told reporters on Wednesday that the neighbourhood assessment study conducted in St. Peters and other districts had showed that social aid issues were major concerns for residents.

The overhauling of the social assistance policy will be done in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Affairs VSA.

“We have received the concern from many residents … and a lot of it has to do with the extension and renewal of these applications. It is difficult especially for the elderly, the disabled, the mentally ill and [similar-Ed.] groups of persons to keep up with the administrative procedures necessary … oftentimes resulting in persons finding themselves without the necessary help they are seeking and entitled to from government,” the Prime Minister said.

She said the Community Help Desk currently operational in St. Peters and to a certain extent in Dutch Quarter had important roles to play in assisting persons with information on where to get certain government services and assistance.
“Government’s intention is to continue with the overall review of these policies and legislation that will ease that burden that so many persons have expressed that they are encountering,” she said.
The Prime Minister couldn’t say how long the revamping process would take, but indicated that she considered it a matter of urgency and a priority.

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