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…as GSD raises questions about GCC finances

The GSD has questioned whether changes made by Gibraltar Community Care to the community officer scheme are an indication that the charity’s finances “are now being stretched”.

The charity reverted to the original eligibility criteria for community officers against concern that the scheme had evolved into an unfair model where pensioners who were well off were nonetheless receiving payments that were intended for those who were unemployed and had limited means.

The change will mean new applicants to the scheme will be means-tested for employment and pension income.

GSD MP Roy Clinton, who shadows the finance portfolio, said had probed Community Care and the investment of its cash reserves for “a number of years”, to ensure that the current level of benefits continued to be sustainable.

“Whereas the last audited accounts of GCC for June 30, 2018, show it made a standalone loss of £5.8 million this was more than compensated by the £6 million profit made by its subsidiary,” Mr Clinton said in a statement.

“Payments to Community Officers cost GCC £4.7million in 2018, almost a quarter of all benefit payments.”

“The question now arises as to how much does GCC expect to save annually from the changes introduced which are worth a maximum of around £6,000 per community officer.”

Mr Clinton said that the directors of Gibraltar Community Care Limited must accept that while they operate as an independent charity, “they have a moral duty to the community to signal well in advance any changes to benefits and to slowly phase them in” so that retirees can properly manage their finances.

“The number of current Community Officers enjoying ‘six-figure pensions’ is of public interest and should be disclosed if that is being used to justify the changes,” Mr Clinton said.

“The sudden cuts to the Community Officer benefit this year thus invariably raises the question as to whether GCC’s finances have suffered a recent significant investment loss, or has the Government signalled to the directors that they will be reducing the level of funding from the public purse in future?” Mr Clinton asked, adding that Gibraltar’s pensioners needed “reassurance and a clear answer” from GCC and the Gibraltar Government.

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