Minister of Social Care, Christopher Sinckler (at head of table),??addressing his ministerial colleagues and officials from a coss-section of government departments who comprise the Inter-Ministry Task Force to Monitor and Strengthen the Social Safety Net. Also pictured (facing from left) are Minister of Community Development and Culture, Steve Blackett; Minister of State in the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development, Patrick Todd; and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Social Care, Sonja Welch. Backing are Minister of Youth, Family and Sports, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, and Minister of Health, Donville Inniss.

Government’s Inter-Ministry Task Force to Monitor and Strengthen the Social Safety Net should bring the leadership needed to save Barbados by ensuring the coordination of services and a stronger social security network.

This is the view of Minister of Social Care, Christopher Sinckler, who was addressing the inaugural meeting of the Task Force yesterday.

Stating that the provision of a social safety net was an important part of the state’s responsibility, he told Task Force members that it was integral, in this current challenging environment, that those persons who are affected by poverty should be known.??

Minister Sinckler also urged the Task Force to develop evidence-based policies to support and sustain our social safety nets and to ensure that the systems were anchored in good governance and were cost effective.

"We must monitor and evaluate our social safety nets to ensure that they are doing what they are supposed to do, and reaching those whom they are supposed to reach…We must strengthen any programmes that are weak and include new programmes to deal with new situations," he said.

"…Whatever we do, this Government assures its vulnerable sector that it will receive no less favourable treatment than it has in the past, even as we review the systems to make them better, more efficient and effective," Mr. Sinckler added.

Generally, a social safety net refers to the provision, by the state, of a collection of services, such as welfare; cash transfers; assistance to vulnerable groups; unemployment benefits; non-contributory pensions; and subsidised services, such as public transport, public works, assisted housing, universal health care and homeless shelters.??

Mr. Sinckler pointed out that as a result of global developments, Government had to take a pro-active stance, and adopt an integrated and comprehensive approach to the delivery of social services, in order to mitigate the expected negative impact from this global recession. "It must be able to defend its expenditure, in order to be in a position to provide the same level of assistance to those who need it most, that is the chronic or systemic poor, and the transient poor, working poor or newly poor, new entrants to the poverty cycle," the Minister remarked.

The Inter-Ministry Task Force to Monitor and Strengthen the Social Safety Net comprises representatives from eight Ministries. These are: Social Care, Constituency Empowerment, Urban and Rural Development; Youth, Family and Sports; Health; Housing and Lands; Education and Human Resource Development; Culture and Community Development; Labour and Immigration; and Agriculture.

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