Over 2,000 dip into both salary and income support grants, costing gov’t $8.1M

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Over 2,000 dip into both salary and income support grants, costing gov’t $8.1M

An Auditor General report has found that due to individuals accessing both the salary relief and income support grants, government was made to spend over $8 million dollars from March 2020 to September 2020.

The report states that “As part of the audit procedure, the salary relief grant database was joined with the income support database. An analysis of the joined databases revealed that 2,672 persons received both grants which amounted to $8,115,000.00 as at 30th September 2020.”

The salary relief grants were for citizens who were part of the National Insurance Scheme and made contributions, while the income support grants catered to those who were not in the system.

However, thousands applied via both formats and were able to access grants.

According to the report, entertainers were among those who ‘double-dipped’ and received more than their one-off payment from the cultural grant of $5,000.

The report said 823 artistes and creatives were paid $4,125,000 as at the end of September.

“All applicants were paid $5,000 with the exception of two persons who were paid two payments each. Analysis of the income and support grant database revealed the possibility that 44 persons who were in receipt of the cultural grant were also paid income and food support grants by the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services.

“Audit requested the national ID numbers of these persons from the Ministry of Sport and Community Development to verify if they were indeed the same persons. The information was not provided by the ministry. This could result in an overpayment of $220,000 if the names appear on both databases.”

The report added that detailed analysis was not possible since no proof of membership in an artiste association was presented. There were also no evidence in some cases of sustained cultural activity from 2018 to 2020 and artistes failed to provide information on the cancellation of bookings/events owing to the pandemic. There was a lack of evidence in some cases of citizenship, for example identification and NIS card numbers.

Minister of Social Development and Family Services Donna Cox said double dippers who are identified will be flagged but not punished.