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Action on Poverty demands change on social security

Action on Poverty 070519 { seq} ( Photo John Bugeja) campaign on households below average income

The newly formed Action on Poverty group yesterday held a protest outside No.6 Convent Place as it demanded government action over Gibraltar’s ‘outdated’ social security system.

“No more social insecurity,” was key among the group’s demands as it sought to place a spotlight on issues of poverty in Gibraltar.

The group acts as an umbrella organisation for the Equality Rights Group, Unite the Union’s Community Branch, the Private Sector Workers and Pensioners Association, the Divorced Woman’s Group and the Unite Equalities Committee.

All groups were represented at yesterday’s protest at the conclusion of which the group’s spokesman Felix Alvarez, left a letter at reception for Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, setting out its core demands.

These include a root and branch modernisation of the social security system which, according to Action on Poverty, should be consolidated into one piece of legislation.

It further called for the reorientation of social security towards entitlements in law as opposed to the “overwhelming dependence” on discretion exercised by politicians and officials.

“The suspicion of arbitrariness that accompanies non-statutory discretionary decisions must be eliminated,” the group said.

The group called for a social security framework of benefits that bears a “realistic relation to living with dignity in the Gibraltar of today”.

“In a wealthy GDP society like Gibraltar, no one should fall below the poverty line at any time.”

In addition, Action on Poverty is calling for all details on benefits to be published, the adoption by Government of formal poverty lines below which individuals in Gibraltar will not be permitted to fall, and for discrepancies for private sector pensioners and divorced women to be tackled.

The group welcomed the Government’s draft legislation for compulsory private sector pensions.

But, it said, the Government must reconcile low private sector pensioner incomes with an agreed poverty line.

This, the group said, will ensure that all citizens in the community are afforded dignity and wealth is fairly distributed.

Pic by Johnny Bugeja

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