Minister: Needs Unit at ‘breaking point’

| 24/09/2015 | 84 Comments
Cayman News Service

Osbourne Bodden, Minister of Community Affairs, Youth and Sports

(CNS): The community affairs minister has said government plans to inject more resources into the Needs Assessment Unit (NAU), which he described as being “stretched to breaking point”. Osbourne Bodden told the local media that he is very concerned about the mounting social problems, including the homeless and those with mental health issues. The CIG is working with the FCO to create a more structured social support network for those in need, he said, but in the meantime government was working hard to care for those in need and to provide them with shelter and food.

As well as trying to take care of the economic needs of mental health patients, the minister said, government was also working to build a mental health facility. However, he said there was still a lot to be done, as he pointed to the increase in social deprivation since the recession set in some six years ago. Following significant press coverage recently over increasing homelessness, families in real economic crises, persistent levels of unemployment that seem far higher than official figures and the inadequate provision for those suffering from mental health problems, the minister acknowledged the challenges faced by the departments in his ministry.

He said that he and his staff plan to meet soon with local activist Matthew Leslie, who is asking government to help him create a housing transition centre.

Staffed with volunteers and professionals, Leslie said he wants to create a one-stop temporary housing centre to provide shelter to people who are homeless while they find suitable accommodation. But he also envisions a centralized food bank there, a thrift store, an employment bureau and meeting spaces. If the property is big enough, he said, he would like to see a community agriculture programme to grow fresh produce at the same location. Leslie has already engaged in talks with possible sponsors and developers to build the centre and said a committee had been established to create a charitable foundation and move the project forward.

Leslie told CNS that he appreciates that government is already helping a lot of people but the public sector can’t do this alone.

“Because of the fact that their resources are stretched, the private sector has to step up to the plate, as it affects us as well,” he said. “If we forget about these people — those in need, those who are hungry, and underprivileged — you can bet that they will remind us about them in ways we don’t want them to. Things are bad but all is not lost and we need to step up and do what we all can to help and turn things around before it’s too late.”

Bodden commended Leslie’s work but he said it was by no means a straightforward task and lots of thought and planning would have to into such a facility.

“I applaud him and others for recognizing the serious issues the DCFS and NAU, HSA, RCIPS and other agencies deal with every day, but such a facility would have to properly built, run and proper care administered to those individuals to avoid this becoming an even bigger problem.”

Bodden also stated that the FCO was helping the CIG with comprehensive plans to create a more formal, structured social services support network in Cayman.

In the meantime, however, there are growing numbers of people attending the NSU each day hoping for help but who are sometimes waiting weeks, even months, before receiving any assistance. The problem of social welfare is becoming one that the CIG can no longer deal with on an ad hoc, piecemeal basis.

Bodden said he would be doing everything within his capacity and the ministry’s current budget to address the issues.

“The Progressive government and my colleagues share these concerns and will be looking to beef up the NAU with more resources, as the staff there and the director are stretched to breaking point. The administrative arm of the government, headed up by the deputy governor, is also working daily with us in this regard,” he added.

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Category: Community, Local News, Politics

Comments (84)

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  1. Red Snapper says:

    And just like the rest that left Cayman you will leave also.

  2. Caymanian says:

    I want to say this to get it off my chest….

    Matthew Leslie yes has political motivations to do what he is doing but if you know him you know he is a good guy and this is not a far stretch for him.

    Next. Someone has to do something and correct me if I am wrong. The naysayers and the ones wanting to say something bad about Mr. Leslie….aah wth ate you doing? Say what you want but he isn’t sitting flat on his tukkus talking crap…he is actually doing something so until you do something shut up.

    Thanks Matthew for your hard work and being the kind of person someone would want representing them in the LA.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Sorry, who is he?

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s the whole point. He is just a normal citizen doing something. Unlike most of our quiet elected officials.

  4. Anonymous says:

    KISS, I would like to correct your two words – Jim Bodden! Review the “policies”, “processes” and actions of the 1976 – 84 Governments or talk to people who were there!

    Those other clowns just followed in his footsteps!

  5. Anonymous says:

    The entitlement group increase when employers failed to do their part in paying a proper salary. WTH did you all think that was going to happen? People being paid 5-10 per hour? How does one pay for an apt rental with 1-4 kids? $1200 per month elect. $300-400, water $75-150, that totals out to $1575. So if the wife works then you need a domestic. $600-1000.
    So its impossible , right? We haven’t included food, medical ins., house ins., car ins., gas, maint. of crappy car, phone ,TV. So tell me how this going to work?

    • Anonymous says:

      don’t forget about the employers who do not pay pension or health care coverage that actually is a coverage rather than a sham of USD 100 benefit for the year!

    • Anonymous says:

      You can’t. So perhaps you move somewhere where you can?

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t have all those children! Close your legs or wrap it up! Those wages sound like the uneducated single parent. Two salaries would work. But then that becomes a child support issue.

      The govt should not be paying more for the needs of ‘families’ where the deadbeat father is just avoiding paying.

  6. SSM345 says:

    Hey Ozzie, perhaps you should hire Mathew Leslie, he seems to be doing more than your entire Department combined.

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t be fooled by political aspersions so easy.

    • Anonymous says:

      4:49. Close that department down and let the lazy ass dependents get out and work. Too many depending on government for hand out. The only way I knew, was work hard to earn your keep. All these Johnny Come Lately, are expecting an handout and not an hand up.

      • Anonymous says:

        The middle class get more than anyone else, with guaranteed government jobs for life while running their own businesses, their children getting scholarships, family medical cover and not one iota of contribution by them.

    • Your conscience says:

      This is a topic that has been brewing for quite a long time. I’m surprised that the Progressives did not make statements on this until a private citizen has brought it into the public domain full blast. Come on now what are people’s expectations of politicians, aren’t they supposed to have the pulse on what’s going on.

      There is a serious lack of political maturity on the part of thes elected members, and every day it is more and more apparent that these educated politicians don’t have a clue as to the problems facing the community in all aspects of life and it is evident that they have no tangible solutions.

      Many on these Islands citizens, residents and transient workers sincerely hope that our next administration will understand the dynamics and pitfalls prevalent in this society and will have a comprehensive plan to deal with the issues and provide an enhanced quality of life for all.

      • SAM says:

        You have elected them. Reap what you sow. Sincerely hoping won’t help either. I would suggest everyone re-reads Bo Millers arguments agains cruise dock. This man has vision, intelligence and wisdom.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Now..let us turn to our veteran, decades-serving politicians to fix the problem that they clearly did not help bring about.

    – Who

  8. Allar says:

    What do we expect. Every time PPM is elected we have the same thing occurring only the Lions members and close friends get any work and the economy is dead. They go at big projects so only there friends survive and create a crisis. POOR PEOPLE MISTAKE

    • Anonymous says:

      At least there is not a line of people every Friday to the Premier’s House waiting for their $$ allowance for the week

  9. Anonymous says:

    LOL, “stretched to breaking point,” pretty much describes the Minister himself. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone so ill-fitted to a senior government position in my life.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Hello Mister Minister!!! Try asking your good old friend, the Premier, for the money back that he so graciously give to his friend over there in Dominica. REMEMBER both of you, charity begins at home.

    • Anonymous says:

      Now that is mean12.59, I hope the people of Dominica read that comment and remember it next time Cayman gets flattened and needs help. And it will happen.

      • Anonymous says:

        And can you please say how many countries and how much they gave Cayman after Ivan? How much did Dominica give us??? People are unemployed and hurting here!!! Fix the immigration problem! Stop letting people get further permits and PR!

        • Anonymous says:

          The economy will improve when people are employed, small businesses will grow.
          When will work permits decrease and PR cease? Who has the balls to limit work permits and PR? If the people are not employed, how are they to survive in this country? STOP issuing more permits, employ Caymanians who want to work.

          • Anonymous says:

            They may want to, but the latest ones we saw want to do it on their terms, namely turn up when they feel like it, not listen to instructions, throwing sickies. They don’t want to work, they just want a pay check. Unsustainable economic model and they better get with reality quickly.

        • Anonymous says:

          Limiting work permits will just reduce the number of jobs here, have you not learned that? If we could find more Caymanians who actually wanted to work and succeed we would have employed them ages ago. Your attitude is the reason why! Anyone who thinks they are entitled to a job is never going to be the type of employee we want. Every now and again a youngster pops up who is just what we need but most who apply don’t even turn up for the interview. You will never tell us who to employ. We would rather leave than be forced to employ people who do not match the standards we need.

          • Anonymous says:

            Your comment is insulting and ignorant, not all Caymanians without jobs does not want to succeed and are lazy. Many are hard working and capable and not of the entitlement mentality. In every single country in the world, you have lazy uncapable and obviously bigot locals and expat alike, who fight down each other. Like you two are doing right now.

            Your comment ” you will never tell us who to employ ; we would rather leave etc…” is just as lame as the person you are responding to. i am certain you do not speak for every expat just as the local do not speak for every Caymanian. Very sad state of affairs.

            Years ago locals and expats lived so much better. I know of many expats who are slack lazy and incompetent just as some locals, and only here for the S’s as some say….but there are many who are clearly intelligent hard working and fair not just using this country. Many who are genuinely here doing good by giving back and integrating with our local people.

            Human nature that we all make comments at times and come across all type but not the locals. Shame on you, and shame on the locals who spout negative bigot comments against each other and always think the worst of each other. There is good and bad in every nationality.

      • Anonymous says:

        First let me say that I have no problem with the money we have to Dominica. But on the issue of “Cayman being flattened” and the help that comes after. The reason everyone wanted to “help” Cayman was simple. INSURANCE. We had money to pay for rebuilding. How many countries sent money to Cayman after Ivan???!!!! None! Why?! Because we had money and they countries around the region knew it!!!

        So please get it straight. People come for money, not charity. Ask Hati why they aren’t being “helped” and haven’t recovered yet. Look at the news, all that money donated has been gulped up by a few who came to “help”.

      • Anonymous says:

        Some of us only think of ourselves. Very mean spirited person, who doesn’t understand disaster is not planned, it can happen anytime. Follow the good book, “Love thy Neighbour”. When you give, or help those who are in need, not those who want, you will receive in abundance.

  11. Anonymous says:

    A number of years ago I had the pleasure of listening to a Cayman status holder lamenting about how the Government should be going through a certain housing subdivision prior to the hurricane and provide plywood to everyone so the can shutter up their house. She lamented about it in her drive way of her newly built home while I was looking at her brand new Honda CVR.

    That’s the mentality of people on this Island and has been for a very long time and Government with its ongoing coddling has been encouraging it for decades.

    I purposely point out that this person was a status holder to make it clear that this is not just the mentality of bred and born Caymanians. It seems that there is something in the local Kool-Aid that makes people believe Government should do for everyone no matter who resides on Island no matter what.

    There are people who are absolutely deserving and in need of any help they can get. No doubt about it. It is unfortunate that such persons as the one mentioned in this post are the ones ruining assistance for those who truly need it and I have yet to see Government being willing to take a hard stance to ensure there are no handouts to undeserving folks who are either just lazy or have their priorities screwed up.

  12. Elena says:

    I can’t take him seriously after his f…g driftwood rampage.

    • Anonymous says:

      And his Capt’n Cow Cod debacle

    • Anonymous says:

      11:40. Too many of those driftwoods take us of for floor mat.

    • Anonymous says:

      Did anyone ever before?

    • Anonymous says:

      Do you really know what the word driftwood meant in that holler balloo? I don’t think you and many others really do, because if you all did, perhaps you might not keep referring to it.

      I am not condoning what took place, but take it from me, it DID NOT mean what you and many think it does; at least not in that instance. Not saying that any of the two definitions many of us know it to be, should have been used at all in that heated exchange.

  13. Anonymous says:

    How does this square with today’s quiet announcement that the PPM is building a 25m swimming pool up on top the Bluff?

    Clearly there are funds and resources aplenty to go around. It’s just a matter of who “run tings”.

    Priorities, priorities……..

  14. Anonymous says:

    Problem is that too many underserving individuals and families have received assistance and abused the system for a long time Those need to be rooted out once and for all with no discretion of any civil servant or MLA getting in the way and deciding otherwise because of some connection……..I truly believe that this is the reason why the private sector is reluctant to provide assistance.

    • Anonymous says:

      The system in Cayman is abused more by the middle classes than those genuinely in need.

    • Anonymous says:

      The answer to assistance is reassessment. Every person receiving handout from government, go through a vetting process. A young person who has never worked, has 3 children and is provided for by government. Is there any incentive for her to look a job? No. Just encouraging them to abuse drugs at taxpayers expense.

  15. Road To Nowhere says:

    I’d love to donate my time and money but I’m just driftwood that pays its own phone bill.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Can we please find out why so many of those needing support have been granted Permanent Residence or Caymanian Status in circumstances where the law REQUIRES applicants to demonstrate they can and will fully support themselves and their dependants?

    • Jim says:

      Ask Mackeeva it was his status grant that caused this

      • Anonymous says:

        No reason for us to continue to import poverty at an overwhelming rate, something we continue to do every day.

        • Anonymous says:

          The ironic thing is that with the current situation in Europe, one would hope that a tiny Island who has complete control over its borders would wake up and take advantage of the fact that they have control over who comes and stays. But as longer as we are catering to greedy business owners who lover to have work permits for indentured slaves, we will have more and more people who are relying on a welfare state that doesn’t exist.

        • Anonymous says:

          I agree. Have heard about the great status grant to persons who were earning a maid’s or gardener’s salary, received status and then brought their numerous children in to also receive status. Good that parents and children can be together, especially while the children are minors, but how could they support them in a place like Cayman with its very high costs of living on their tiny salaries? Hence the huge increase in Govt. dependency and decrease of available and adequate resources for those who are genuinely in need.. For not all of the dependents are still minors. Some are healthy,strong, young adults who could and should be working to earn their keep now.

          • Anonymous says:

            Ask Kurt and Alden how many people they got status for?

          • Anonymous says:

            Its not just the status grants, its the free ticket to ride for helpers and the like that simply do not earn enough to support themselves in Cayman after they retire or lose their jobs. Then you have plenty who marry a Caymanian to stay (as encouraged not only by the Immigration laws but some immigration department members as well who tell you to marry your other half if you don’t want them to go home). When they inevitably split up, it just creates a further drain on already strained resources.

          • Anonymous says:

            I know a family that got status brought the children here and went on welfare.

        • Anonymous says:

          Then people need to stop encouraging the poverty stricken from appealing PR and now they want changes to make it easier, and we know who they are and not the professionals either as they have the money. Poor PPM they were trying to control some of Mac’s entitled visitors aka want to be citizens but now they have created a fuss and want those points changed, ….

    • Anonymous says:

      More marl road garbage. Give us some substantiated facts.Just about all the panhandlers I come across are born Caymanian.

      • Anonymous says:

        What a sheltered life you lead. And by the way, being born here is no indication that someone is Caymanian.

        • SSM345 says:

          Because Cayman is the only country in the world that does not afford citizenship to those born within its borders. Yet many Caymanians have and will go to other places to give birth i.e. the US, for that exact reason, to get citizenship.

          • Anonymous says:

            Not true. First, Cayman is not a country. Second, neither the United Kingdom, nor Canada, nor Jamaica (for example) bestow citizenship based solely on place of birth. That the United States does it makes it rather unique.

      • Anonymous says:

        Wrong! Many Caymanians that were born in other Caribbean islands are now living off of the Government. Why is it that you all hate to be told the truth?

    • KISS says:

      Two words; McKeeva Bush. The creation of the welfare state system in Cayman is directly connected to the dispossession of the Caymanian from stakeholder status within our economy. It is a consequence of allowing monopolistic entities to use their almost limitless resources to take control of huge swaths of the economy. It was enough for the ignorant people to take the handouts from Dart via McKeeva Bush and the great Dart steal and now the consequences are coming to fruition. A Caymanian has to come before anyone else when it comes to the right to have a job in the Cayman Islands. The dealings between the UDP have been rightly called out by the Auditor General as illegal but they have paid no consequence for it. If a Caymanian who is willing and able to do a job is out of work then the expatriate who is in said position has got to go. The welfare state system has been created to offset the sociological fallout out from the unwise, criminal and wholly inequitable stranglehold which big business interests have perpetrated against Cayman. Some of them are Caymanian, some of them are recently granted Caymanian status and some of them are expatriates in cahoots with fronters and corrupt as hell politicians. These are the consequences of allowing a thief and a charlatan to engage in complicit debauchery with a monopolistic vulture capitalist with imperialist tendencies. Ownership of the Caymanian economy has to be returned to the Caymanian first and foremost otherwise it will continue to get worse for one and all except those bastards who hide behind gated communities from that which they have created.

    • Anonymous says:

      Wotes (spelt: Votes)

    • Anonymous says:

      10:16. A number of those individuals are causing problems here. Opportunist. They bring the entire family at our expense. If they are not capable of providing for themselves according to the LAW, rescind the status and send them on their merry way. Too many free loaders.

  17. The hardworking middle class says:

    I hear you Minister, however, the unfortunate truth is that too much of the tax payers money is going into administration and not enough is actually going towards addressing the many issues of which you speak.

    Like so many other areas in Government, we have few resources on the front line but a huge bureaucratic hierarchy of managers, supervisors, account staff, “administrative this” and “deputy that” shuffling paper and consuming most of the resources.

    Before the Needs Assessment Unit (NAU)was created, we had the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) which took care of all aspects of this problem. Now we have created a separate Unit and, like everything else in Government, all it is doing is growing and asking for more resources.

    This Unit has a Director who makes a six figure salary, she has a deputy, they have a finance manager, private security detail, separate office and a plethora of the administrative staff I referred to previously. These are not the social workers who interview people and determine the level and type of support needed.

    What the Minister should do is remove the upper level non-value added management and associated costs, fold it back under the DCFS, and use the savings to purchase more social workers and front line staff to provide greater efficiency in service delivery.

    And by the way, (as Donald Trump would say) the Cayman Islands is way too economically blessed for over 8,000 Caymanian families to be accessing a welfare system they do not pay into thorough direct taxation.

    If you think about the statistics, there are 55,000 of us on this rock, about half are not from here (which means they don’t have access to social assistance) which leaves approximately $27,500 Caymanians. If 8,000 Caymanian FAMILIES are accessing welfare from that number, it has to represent almost half of the Caymanian population. This is clearly unsustainable in a society that is currently surviving on indirect taxation.

    An ideal situation would be for the Minister to work on lessening the demand for social services within the country instead of creating greater capacity to handle welfare cases, but I have to be realistic in my thought process.

    Right now, rather than look a job, people are finding it much easier and of much less inconvenience to go to the NAU and get a housing allowance of $1,000 per month, poor relief of $550 per month, as well as food and utility vouchers of various denominations.

    Minister, we are creating and nurturing a type of welfare state we simply cannot afford. WAKE UP!!!!

    In my opinion, what we really need is for the Private Sector to create a Needs Assessment Unit for Government. That way, when the cry goes out for more resources (which is intricately tied to more taxation) someone would have to justify whether there is indeed a real need or simply a case of more social employment and empire building.

    • Anonymous says:

      A masterful description of the way our Civil Service hierarchy works. Might I add a Human Resources Manager to the list of “Chiefs” in the NAU?.

      • Anonymous says:

        All part and parcel of the Public Finance Management Law. The PFML essentially turned the Civil Service into a “make jobs” programme.

        Which political geniuses brought that in I wonder……

        • Anonymous says:

          Complete BS about the PMFL 12:18, but apart from that your comment was …er……a comment.

          • Anonymous says:

            Give us the total govt and stat auth headcount pre and post PFML.

            The PFML has been an unmitigated economic disaster by any measure. Well, assuming it actually produced any meaningful, verifiable, audited numbers.

    • Elena says:

      Wow, one could not have said better!

    • Fred says:

      Where does the 8,000 figure – whether it is families or individuals – come from? It is simply mind boggling that somewhere between 30% and (if an average family is say only 3 people being generous, with a Caymanian population of 32000 per the ESO) 75% of the entire Caymanian population are on benefits. I would prefer to believe that figure is simply made up, because God help us if it isn’t – that would lend a whole new take on the allegations of an entitlement culture.

      • Anonymous says:

        Google is your friend, the 8000 was in a local front page news article and came from the government itself

      • anonymous says:

        You can read it here,000–get-Government-aid/ the article said people and not family, but it is still an alarming number for that many Caymanians to be on the dole.

        Also keep in mind that this was 4 years ago, the fact that a specialized Unit to deal with these people is now at its breaking point suggests the numbers must have increased.

        We can’t keep making it easier for people to live on welfare by throwing more resources at it. Perhaps, it should take 3 months, that may force people to go out and find a job instead of joining the queue for a handout.

    • Anonymous says:

      Much more than half are not from here. 21,000 are on work permits. 4,000 are dependents of work permit holders. 10,000 (at least) have been granted status. 2,000 are Permanent residents. 500 are spouses of Caymanians. That is 37,500 alone, and does not take into account so called tourists who really live here, or numerous over stayers.

      They say there is truth in numbers. That is apparently not true when government publishes them. Try it some day. They do not add up.

  18. Anonymous says:

    First step. Carry out a proper ASSESSMENT, and you will realize that many who are receiving assistance should be removed from the system. Too many are having children and their are no fathers to provide for them. Government wasn’t a sperm donor, so why take on other peoples responsibility.
    Too many young people investing in the wrong things and becoming governments liability. Give them the option to find a job and stop sitting around using drugs and depending on government. Help those who deserve to be Helped.

  19. Dandumb says:

    A lot of this is related to the breakdown of the family unit and decades of a poor education system.

    • Anonymous says:

      In the continuing absence of a father figure I decide to claim benefits because I can, rather than decide I am in control of my life and get up and go earn some money. Any excuse.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Thrift store, great idea, can’t believe it hasn’t been already. Oh wait, there are like a half dozen already and what they don’t need is one more competitor.

    Focus on what is most needed, not what is ideal.

    • Fred says:

      The thrift store has to be co-located with the accommodation and the free food provision so the unemployed don’t have to waste their time going somewhere to pick these things up, and can maximise their time at the also provided meeting places.

      • Anonymous says:

        Because they are too lazy proud to go to the existing places and would rather use the free money to go on a weekend Miami trip?!

    • Anonymous says:

      I think the purpose of having the thrift store connected with all of this is for the people to have decent clothes to wear and be able to go out and get jobs.

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