ORANJESTAD, St. Eustatius– A decision by the Social Affairs and Employment (SZW) unit to increase child benefits and social assistance for the needy in Statia - as well as Bonaire and Saba - has been welcomed by Government Commissioner Alida Francis, who has campaigned tirelessly for support to lift the quality of life of every Statian.

As of 1 July, the independent living and joint household allowances will rise to US$132 every fortnight, bringing the social assistance benefit to 62.5 per cent of the statutory minimum wage for single people and 85 per cent for couples.

In addition, child benefits will increase by US$10 to US$99 per month, bringing St. Eustatius on par with the average child benefits in the European Netherlands. An additional US$10 increase will take effect on 1 January 2023.

“This is an extremely positive step that will go a long way towards bringing dignity and contentment to the lives of every Statian, no matter their socio-economic status,” said Ms. Francis in the immediate aftermath of the announcement. “We thank SZW for considering the plight of the needy, but we remain a long way from social parity. No single entity can do it alone. In order to succeed we need every hand on deck.”

A recent report on poverty among single parents and children in the Caribbean Netherlands revealed significant differences between the facilities and services available in the Caribbean and European Netherlands. It called for the establishment of a social minimum income based on the actual cost of living on the islands, which it said could only be achieved through a better understanding of the problems on the ground.