Cabinet and Executive Council have fully endorsed and supported the increase of the infirm benefit from $200 per month to $400 per month. This increase will take effect from the 1st of December 2020.
Honourable Minister Mac Mokoroa stated that: “Given the impact of COVID19 on our economic and social sector, one of the most vulnerable sectors identified within our community are those collecting our infirm benefits. The government have been working on this since 2018”.
The increase of the Infirm Benefit reflects the Government’s recognition of the challenges faced by our persons with disability who are unable to work. The decision to increase is based on the parameters of the Household Income Expenditure Survey (HIES) 2015-2016 and further supported by the recently completed Cash Transfer Evaluation. An increase of this nature should allow infirm beneficiaries to better sustain themselves financially and cover their most basic needs.
In July 2019 the Government increased the over 70’s welfare benefit for our elderlies from $660 per month to $700 per month, the age for those collecting the child benefit was also changed from 14 years to 16 years.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs conducted a Cash Transfer Evaluation in 2019 that was supported by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the Economic Policy Research Institute of South Africa (EPRI) to review our welfare benefits. The final report was completed in June 2020 and presented to Cabinet for approval and endorsement in September 2020. The main purpose of this independent, evaluation was to assess and guide key decisions by the Government on the future of welfare benefits: the newborn allowance, child benefit, infirm & destitute benefit, old age pension and caregiver allowance.
The Government remains committed to strengthening our social protection systems in a sustainable and affordable manner and will consider implementing recommendations proposed in the Cash Transfer Evaluation report such as the review of the current benefit levels but by order of priority.
In the region, the Cook Islands is recognized for its extensive formal social protection systems. Since 1965, our social welfare system has expanded to include a range of non-contributory cash-transfer benefits. Cash transfer benefits are important for our people as it helps our most vulnerable to meet their basic needs and is a sign of prosperous development in a country.