The Ministry of Social Development and Family Services is now opening the door for those people now unemployed due to the pressures of the COVID-19 virus to access the social support grants even if they are not registered with the National Insurance Board.

In a release late yesterday, the ministry said these individuals can access the Food Support, Rental Assistance and Income Support available to persons who have been retrenched, terminated or were self-employed and now have no income since on or after March 1, 2020. However, the ministry said these self-employed persons must not be registered with the NIB.

It said following several queries as to eligibility, it had become necessary to indicate that members of sporting pro leagues, cultural artistes, those in the entertainment industry, taxi drivers, domestic workers and tradesmen were among some of the people who would qualify for the grants.

The ministry reiterated that once persons are able to produce the required documentation, namely a national identification card, a job letter or evidence via one referee that they are self-employed and no longer employed or that they were retrenched, terminated or have experienced a loss of income, they should apply. However, only one person per household is allowed to apply.

It said already, in excess of 4,000 applications had been received and were being processed. It said application forms are accessible for completion online, via the websites of all ministries, at local government municipal corporations and the social welfare district offices and designated police stations throughout the country.

It added that the preferred method for the submission of applications is online and submission via email but recognised there may be persons who have no access to the internet or scanning services. These people, the ministry said, could return completed forms to the social welfare district offices closest to where they reside in dire situations.

The ministry said people requiring assistance to complete the forms can obtain this help same from the ministry’s Call Centre and through the TTConnect Chat Box facility for completion of the form. In the coming week, the Call Centre will be upgraded to bring greater capacity and an online fillable form will be introduced to facilitate submission of the form online.