RISE Cards to Offer ‘Greater Flexibility’ for Cardholders

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Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Perry Christie speaks with operators of Social Services.
Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Perry Christie speaks with operators of Social Services.

NASSAU, The Bahamas – Officials from the Ministry of Social Services and Community Development and the Department of Social Services Thursday issued the first batch of the RISE Pre-paid Cards to clients of the Wulff Road Outreach Centre.

The RISE Pre-Paid card will allow clients more flexibility in meeting the needs of their households as the card’s use has been expanded to include usage at approved food stores, pharmacies, clothing and shoe stores, bookstores and LP gas vendors.

Eligible householders receive training on various aspects of the programme at their enrollment including their roles and responsibilities, the calculation of the RISE payment and compliance benefits.

Householders must sign an agreement before receiving their RISE payment. All approved beneficiaries of the programme must complete the enrollment training in order to be eligible to receive payment.

“It is notable that when we introduced the prepaid card for the Food Assistance Programme it was restricted to food vendors only,” Minister of Social Services and Community Development, the Hon. Melanie Sharon Griffin said.

“While the RISE Prepaid Card will have some restrictions, it will allow clients more flexibility with meeting the needs of their households (as) clients in receipt of the RISE Prepaid Card will be able to withdraw a maximum of $50 per month from the Bank of The Bahamas. The balance of the funds on the card can only be used at approved vendors (grocery stores, pharmacies, bookstores, clothing stores, shoe stores and LP Gas vendors,” Minister Griffin added.

The RISE (Renewing, Inspiring, Sustaining, Empowering) Programme is the country’s Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Pogramme that is designed to break the cycle of poverty among Bahamian families.

Its purpose is to strengthen the institutional capacity of the Department of Social Services and to improve targeting through a Proxy Means Test which is an instrument that ensures those in need are objectively assessed using household variables that are easy to identify and assess (household size, structure of dwelling, educational attainment and household members).

The reform also calls for implementation of a new payment delivery system for beneficiaries and the installation of a state-of-the-art Management Information System to ensure the smooth processing of requests from registration to payment.

“Ultimately, the reform will ensure that as an agency, we are more responsive, efficient and effective in meeting the needs of those we serve,” Mrs. Griffin said. “Hence, two of our major existing programmes – Food and Uniform Assistance – are to be consolidated into RISE.

“RISE will afford its beneficiaries a cash grant which will give them the flexibility to manage their funds to the optimal benefit of their households,” Mrs. Griffin added.

Minister Griffin said the Department of Social Services commenced enrolment in the RISE Programme at the Wulff Road Centre in March 2016, at which time 81 households were enrolled. To date, a combined total of 382 households have been enrolled into the programme in New Providence and North Andros.

“There are three modules or phases to the programme – targeting, enrollment and payment – which are being implemented incrementally,” Mrs. Griffin said. “To date we have completed the targeting phase in four of our Outreach Centres (Wulff Road and Robinson Road in New Providence), Eight Mile Rock, Grand Bahama and North Andros. We expect to commence the full roll-out of RISE to the remainder of New Providence and the Family Islands soon.”

Minister Griffin said the next step in the process will be the compliance phase when the amounts earmarked for the educational and health conditions will be applied.

“Compliance with the conditions will then begin in September. Social Workers will work closely with RISE beneficiaries to monitor compliance and provide counseling on the management of the household funds,” Mrs. Griffin added.

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