The B.C. government is changing policy in a bid to help break the cycle of poverty and build a future for vulnerable citizens.
The changes were announced by the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction and kick in on July 1. They say clients will benefit from the changes, which are designed to further the goals of TogetherBC, the province’s first poverty reduction strategy.
TogetherBC is a cross-ministry plan that outlines what government will do to help reduce the rate of poverty in B.C. by 25 per cent and how they intend to cut child poverty in half over the next half decade.
The policy changes include ending penalties for families providing room and board to a family member and decreasing the work search from five to three weeks. Access to the identification supplement will be expanded, as will access to the application process for Persons with Persistent Multiple Barriers programs. This is also due to be simplified. As part of the raft of changes the “transient” client category will be removed, as will the $10,000 asset limit on a primary vehicle. Asset limits for people on income assistance will be increased and the moving supplement for people to move anywhere in B.C. will be developed.
One of the more popular changes is likely to be ending penalties for families providing room and board to a family member. Clients who pay room and board to a parent or child while on income assistance currently do not receive the same level of benefits as those in a private room and board agreement. From July, families will be allowed to receive up to the full room and board payments when providing room and board to an adult child or parent on assistance. They won’t suffer a financial penalty, similar to those living in a private room and board situation.
The ministry says that additional changes will be made to improve services and they are focused on helping people access the support they need, when trying to overcome social and economic barriers.
Addressing poverty is a shared goal between the ministry, government and the B.C. Green Party caucus. It is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.
Details on the British Columbia Poverty Reduction Strategy can be found at www2.gov.bc.ca.