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GSD calls for moratorium on Community Care change

Photos by Johnny Bugeja

The GSD has called for an “immediate moratorium” on changes introduced last year to Community Care’s criteria for its ‘community officer scheme’.

The changes, which came into effect in February last year, locked out new male applicants who would otherwise have been eligible at 60.

At the time, the trustees of Community Care said the changes were necessary to ensure payments targeted those who most need them and, in effect, meant reverting to the previous system used when the charity was first established.

The charity said the scheme had changed over the years from its original format, with relaxed eligibility criteria meaning that even men who retired with large pensions received full payments amounting to an “unjustifiable” £50 per hour of volunteering.

Community Care said the system had become “unfair,” hence the need for changes including means testing for employment income and pensions.

But the GSD, which had raised concerns last year when the changes were announced, on Thursday repeated earlier calls for a full explanation from the trustees and a moratorium so that funding options could be discussed with the Gibraltar Government.

“As we said then potential retirees had a legitimate expectation to rely on the scheme when making retirement decisions,” the GSD said.

“The trustees of the charity should introduce an immediate moratorium on their decision and phase in required changes over a period of years that then allows everyone to plan properly.”

“This means restoring payments to people suddenly excluded without notice in February 2020.”

“We repeat that position today.”

The GSD said that if it were in government, it would seek to work with the charity “to ensure no-one is unfairly prejudiced.”

“The GSD understands from representatives of affected individuals that despite a number of discussions or repeated promises of solutions nothing has been forthcoming,” it added.

“This is an unacceptable situation that is adversely affecting the lives of retirees and the trustees and government should work together to resolve this injustice.”

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