Statement from the Ministry of People Empowerment & Elder Affairs on Barbados’ Social Protection Policy, Strategy & Implementation Plan for a Rationalised National Social Protection System
The social and economic inclusion of all members of society is essential to reduce inequity and poverty, while simultaneously promoting economic growth. The Government of Barbados acknowledges the critical role that a robust social protection system will play in reducing poverty and inequity amongst the vulnerable and in promoting social cohesion and socio-economic development.
In so keeping, the Government, through the Ministry of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs (MPEA), has recently developed and adopted the Barbados Social Protection Policy, Strategy and Implementation Plan for a Rationalised National Social Protection System (BARSPIP) 2021 – 2024.
The BARSPIP outlines Barbados’ social protection priorities, and provides for the coordination and development of a responsive framework, which will facilitate the improvement and expansion of existing social protection policies and ensure the effective delivery of social protection in Barbados.
The key objectives of the National Social Protection Policy could be accurately summed up in the words of Prime Minister Hon. Mia Amor Mottley, “we must first meet people where they are … and stop them from being poor”.
The BARSPIP adopts a rights-based approach, which seeks to ensure that the most vulnerable citizens receive the necessary services to break cycles of poverty across generations and ultimately transform their lives. In a complementary manner, the Policy also adopts a life-cycle approach to the provision of social protection services and offers assistance to vulnerable groups from pregnancy and early childhood to old-age.
Social protection is defined by the International Labour Organization (ILO), as the set of public measures that a society provides for its members to protect them against the economic and social distress caused by the absence or a substantial reduction of income from work as a result of various life events (such as sickness, maternity, employment injury, unemployment, invalidity, old age or the death of the breadwinner), the provision of health care and the provision of benefits for families with children.
To ensure that the needs of all vulnerable citizens are truly met across the life-cycle, the two-dimensional model for social protection coverage as articulated by the ILO is adopted in the Policy. This approach to coverage allows the Government to build a solid basis that allows for higher levels of protection.
The two-dimensional model includes; horizontal coverage, or the social protection floor, which provides access to essential health care for all; income security for children; assistance to the unemployed, underemployed and poor; and income security for the elderly and disabled. It also offers vertical coverage; building on the social protection floor and providing more extensive and comprehensive social protection coverage.
The strategy also offers a multidimensional approach to reducing and eradicating poverty and vulnerability within Barbados buttressed by a robust social safety net. The overall framework considers the complexity of poverty and the dynamic ways in which it affects various groups. At the same time, the strategy provides support to livelihood enhancement through the provision of skills development, educational and vocational training designed to promote job creation and self-employment opportunities within communities.
The guiding principles which underpin the strategy are universality; rights-based approach; community participation; multi-dimensional poverty reduction; gender responsiveness; integrated approach; and sustainability.
Founded upon these principles, the BARSPIP framework consists of four strategic objectives with six main outputs related to the strategic objectives. These are as follows:
BARSPIP Strategic Objectives & Outputs
|Strategic Objective 1: Robust Social Protection System||Output 1: Rationalisation of Social Protection System.|
|Output 2: Operationalisation of a Monitoring and Evaluation System for Social Protection|
|Strategic Objective 2: Income Security for Households||Output 3: Operationalisation of a Household Mitigation Unit|
|Strategic Objective 3: Income Security for Persons in Active Age||Output 4: Ensuring of a Minimum Income|
|Output 5: Development of a Retooling and Empowering, Retraining and Enfranchising (ReRe) Programme|
|Output 6: Increased Access to Tertiary Education|
|Strategic Objective 4: Income Security for Older Persons||Output 7: Increased Pensions|
One of the paramount outputs of the BARSPIP is the rationalisation/amalgamation of social services offered by the Ministry of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs. The Prime Minister, the Hon. Mia Amor Mottley has requested this process be fast-tracked into one Department, namely, the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).
The goal of this new entity would be to offer social services through a single Department. The rationalisation/amalgamation and decentralisation of social service delivery represents the necessary pivot towards a social protection system that leaves no one behind.
The importance of a single entity to deliver social protection services across communities in Barbados is critical to ensure that social protection access is people-centered and decentralized to reach the persons for whom they are intended, in an effective and efficient manner.
The policy advocates for the steps to be taken to make social service delivery more efficient; continuously evaluate and improve services; and to improve the targeting mechanisms of the social protection system to ensure the most vulnerable are captured.
This will be facilitated through the development and implementation of a Management Information System (MIS). The MIS will simplify and expedite the processing of data on beneficiaries and programmes; it will facilitate improved case management; and improve the accuracy of targeting.
The MIS can be utilised for beneficiary registration; to determine eligibility; to process payments; as a complaints & grievance mechanism and to monitor and evaluate programmes. The introduction of the MIS will provide a source for comprehensive social protection policy data which will inform more robust policy-making.
The Policy implementation framework will also seek to ensure that greater attention is given to the inclusion of social protection issues surrounding Gender, Disability, and Environmental Protection & Climate Change in social protection policy development and administration.
The MPEA is committed to the operationalisation of the Barbados Social Protection Policy, Strategy, and Implementation Plan. BARSPIP will heavily contribute to the sustainable development goals within the ambit of the 2030 Agenda. Particularly, the MPEA is focused on overseeing a significant reduction in poverty and promoting livelihood and lifecycle enhancements which will empower vulnerable citizens that typifies a capability perspective.
Over the next four months, commencing April 2022, the MPEA undertake the execution of activities under the Policy. First and foremost, we will design and operationalise the plan for the creation of a Department of Family Services while simultaneously designing and launching a Management Information System.
Additionally, the Ministry will be engaged in social protection policy amendments, to offer greater protection to vulnerable groups such as children, the disabled, the elderly persons living in Barbados.