Today sees the publication on SHG’s website of the St Helena Social Welfare Review, a report by Roy Sainsbury and Jonathan Bradshaw of the University of York.  The report is available at http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/publications/

The Review, carried out between August 2012 and April 2013, had two principal objectives:

  • To provide recommendations for the next uprating of benefits on St Helena, and
  • To review the benefits system as a whole and make recommendations

Commenting on the report, Paul McGinnety, Interim Director of the Environment and Natural Resources Directorate, said:

‘The review and its recommendations are ambitious, especially when Governments around the world are looking to reduce benefits.  For St Helena to introduce a Minimum Income Standard demonstrates the Island’s commitment to supporting vulnerable people.

‘It is particularly encouraging that we have worked as a community to develop an Island MIS and those members of the public who dedicated their time to this work deserve tremendous credit.’

Councillor Les Baldwin, Chairman of the Social and Community Development Committee, added:

‘I would like to thank all those who worked on and contributed to this Review and the resulting Social Policy Plan which were well received by Council and Government officials alike.  We all recognise the difficulties of the vulnerable in our society, and although many of the recommendations are ambitious they are not unachievable.

‘Evidence of this is the introduction of a Minimum Income Standard (MIS) for the uprating of pensions and social benefits, seeing St Helena becoming one of the first countries in the world to apply this methodology. Work has already begun towards a plan of implementation for other recommendations over the next five years, beginning with Child Benefit for those aged five or under.’

Director of Strategic Policy & Planning, Susan O’Bey, concluded:

‘This review has taken place just two years after the new benefit system was introduced in 2011.  It addresses a number of issues which have been raised by Councillors and by members of the public and the recent announcement on the increase in IRB and BIP is a direct result of this work.

‘The report contains a number of recommendations which will be discussed by Councillors in the coming months. Some of these are about improving operational aspects of the system and can be put in place quite quickly.  Others are much more ambitious and will be implemented over a much longer timeframe.’

SHG

22 November 2013

SHG is pleased to announce that recipients of Basic Island Pension (BIP) and Income Related Benefits (IRB) will receive an increase in their weekly allowance from 1 December 2013. This was agreed by Executive Council on 14 November 2013.

This increase results from the introduction of a benefit system based on a Minimum Income Standard for the setting and up-grading of Income Related Benefits and Basic Island Pension.

From 1 December, BIP recipients who currently receive £50.05 will receive £53.53 per week, those receiving £37.54 will receive £40.15 and those receiving £25.03 will receive £26.77.

IRB recipients will receive an increase in their weekly benefits from £48.16 to £51.64.

Households receiving benefits under ‘Transitional Protection’ may not necessarily receive an increase in their current overall amount of benefits as this will depend on the amount of benefit they are transitionally protected by. These households will continue to receive the same amount of benefits as they did before the increase.

The Health and Social Welfare Directorate will be distributing letters to all recipients of both Basic Island Pension and Income Related Benefits informing them of the increases and their new weekly entitlement.

SHG

19 November 2013

 

Legislative Councillors are holding a series of public meetings in November.  During each meeting there will be a minimum of three Members present. 

Agenda items planned to be discussed in the meetings include benefits and the Sainsbury Report, The Lucy Faithful Report and a communications strategy for Councillors.  Members of the public are also encouraged to raise any issues not covered in the agenda. 

The remaining schedule is displayed below.  All meetings will begin at 7.00pm.

Wednesday 20 November, Levelwood (Silver Hill Bar), attended by Brian Isaac, Christine Scipio O’Dean and Tony Duncan

Thursday 21 November, St Pauls (Kingshurst Community Centre), attended by Nigel Dollery, Derek Thomas and Gavin Ellick

Wednesday 27 November, HTH Community Centre, attended by Nigel Dollery, Derek Thomas and Les Baldwin

Wednesday 27 November, Briars, St Mary’s Church, attended by Christine Scipio O’Dean, Brian Isaac and Cyril George

Thursday 28 November, Sandy Bay Community Centre, attended by Tony Green, Cyril George and Tony Duncan 

SHG

19 November 2013

From Trevor Botting, Director of Policing:

‘As a result of an ongoing investigation, this morning a 50 year old man of Jamestown, St Helena, was today charged with a number of offences that allegedly took place between 1990 and 2006. These charges relate to allegations of sexual offences against a single victim, who was aged under 10 years when the offending allegedly began.

‘The St Helena Police Service, working with partners, volunteer agencies and the community is committed to the investigation of sexual offences. Anyone affected by this type of crime or who may have information useful to the Police, can speak to one of my team and they will be treated sensitively and in confidence by the Police and the other agencies that provide care and support during and beyond any investigation.’

The Police Confidential Helpline is 22888.

SHG

19 November 2013

 

One of the objectives of St Helena’s Sustainable Development Plan is to facilitate private, public, tourist and business development across the Island through an improved public transport system.

To meet this objective a review of the public transport system was carried out in 2012 and an expanded trial system incorporating home to duty transport for Health shift workers and the public transport system began earlier this year- replacing routes A, B, C and the Rupert’s route.

Since its introduction the trial service, provided by Joshua’s Taxis, has been extended and refined twice and is to be further extended until 31 January 2014. The success of the expanded service will continue to be reviewed.

The trial service does not affect services to Blue Hill and Sandy Bay operated by Solomons and Colin’s Garage. However these routes have also been continuously reviewed and as a result the Blue Hill route will cease to operate from 20 January 2014.

The Sandy Bay route will continue to operate and the contract with Colin’s Garage has been extended to March 2015.

SHG

19 November 2013

The work of GIS, or ‘Geographical Information Systems’, has been celebrated on St Helena since 2007 in a special, earmarked GIS Day. Held every year on the third Wednesday in November, GIS Day is also recognised in the UK and United States – with the aim of demonstrating to the public how important GIS is and how GIS affects our day-to-day lives.

St Helena has its own GIS Office, run by five staff members. This year the GIS team will hold an Open House Gallery at their Office in Essex House, Jamestown, on Wednesday 20 November 2013. Acting GIS Manager, Murray Henry, explains what to expect on the day: “This year there will be displays about what GIS is and how it works, and the equipment. There will also be some hands on demonstrations on the computers to get the public involved and have a play around with the software.”

In the six years since GIS Day has been celebrated on the Island it has been well received by the public and by children. The GIS team this year hopes that the day will be buzzing, with people wanting to learn more about how the GIS software works and how it helps both the St Helena Government and the general public.

This year’s theme is ‘The Importance of Data Sharing’ which Murray explains is very important to GIS: “Sharing data with the GIS Office is important, for example in terms of water infrastructure on the Island. Currently we do not have as much digital data on water infrastructure as we should and we are now in the process of working with Connect Saint Helena to survey all the water lines and produce a digital map showing the specific location of the various water lines throughout the Island.”

Murray has recently returned from a GIS Conference in Gibraltar where he was able to learn how other Overseas Territories use GIS. He commented: “A lot of the Overseas Territories use GIS in different ways but there was one Territory that worked similarly to the GIS Office here – but using a wider range of technology. It was good to see how everyone uses GIS, for example in planning or environmental work.” Something that Murray learnt while at the conference that he hopes to introduce to the GIS Office on St Helena is a new piece of software called QGIS.

Murray explained: “QGIS is the same type of system we use here but it’s free, so whilst we have to pay for some things you can get real benefits from free software. We will be exploring whether we can implement this into our GIS Office to save costs on software.” Interested to learn more about GIS? Then don’t forget that Wednesday 20 November is GIS Day.

Why not go along to the GIS Office and have a browse, you never know what interesting facts you may discover.

SHG 18 November 2013

Open to the Public from 9.30am

Executive Council will meet on Tuesday 19 November 2013, in the Council Chamber. 

Commencing at 9.30am, the meeting will open to the public for the first agenda item, Revoking of Customs Exemption.

 

Executive Council Members are: Ian Rummery, Cyril George, Christine Scipio O’Dean, Leslie Baldwin and Derek Thomas (in Lawson Henry’s absence).   

SHG

15 November 2013

Every year, the Commonwealth Essay Competition encourages and inspires young writers to submit their stories from all over the world.  This year was a record breaking year for the competition with entries exceeding 11,000 and over 70 judges involved in selection.

The competition, free and open to Commonwealth citizens worldwide aged 18 or under, offers the opportunity for young people to get their voices heard.  All winners and special commendations of Gold, Silver and Bronze receive certificates before the end of 2013.

This morning (13 November) at Harford School a certificate presentation was held for student David Owen (now attending Prince Andrew School).  David was awarded Gold for his tale ‘Quick Thinking Saved the Day’. 

Head Teacher Carlene Crowie commented that David’s story was in the top 150 entries from a total of 11,000 across the Commonwealth and the only child from St Helena in this year’s competition to achieve this award – making it even more special.

Colin Moore, Director of Education and Employment, commented on David’s success:

“It’s an absolutely fantastic story.  On behalf of Harford we would like to say how proud we are of you and how pleased we are for you and I think there are a few children in the audience this morning who would also like to have a golden certificate one day as well.”

David spoke of his inspiration for the story:

 “I was reading this book, where this guy was going to this night club and he was dressing up as a vampire slayer with electric blue hair and it described him as very skinny and I suppose that’s where I got my inspiration from for the skeleton figures.”

Carlene gave further thanks to David’s previous teachers Ethel Benjamin (sadly no longer with us) and Marilyn Joshua, who helped him progress into a winning storyteller.

SHG
13 November 2013

 An Economic Development Committee meeting was held on 7 November 2013 in the Council Chamber at the Castle. Present at the meeting  was Deputy Chairman, Derek Thomas, Councillors Bernice Olsson, Gavin Ellick and Les Baldwin along with Interim Director of Environment and Natural Resources, Paul McGinnety, Financial Secretary, Colin Owen, Michielle Yon from Enterprise St Helena and Committee Secretary, Connie Johnson.

The meeting commenced with two items held in closed session – Acting Attorney General, Frank Wastell was present for the first item.

Following the discussion of these two items, the meeting was then opened to the public.

On the open agenda a request was made from the Farmers Association, as to what the long-term plans were in relation to water for irrigation purposes.  Connect Saint Helena reported that currently there are no plans to make any significant changes to the irrigation requirements, other than to maintain the systems already in place.  The Farmers Association will be advised that they should identify any future development requirements, which should then be properly costed and submitted for consideration as part of SHG’s Infrastructure Plans as a bid for Capital Project Funding.

The next item was a Fisheries Decision Paper presented by Head of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Division (ANRD), Darren Duncan, seeking support from the committee to prioritise under-spent funding (during the Budget Supplementary Appropriation – due to be held early in the New Year), to support the St Helena Fishermen’s Association. The money would be used for a stake in an offshore fishing vessel and for the St Helena Fisheries Corporation to purchase fishing equipment for the vessel. The committee was supportive of the request.

Finally, there was an update by Michielle Yon on the activities undertaken by Enterprise St Helena (ESH) during the past month.  The ESH annual programme continues to progress in supporting local businesses and agriculture. Under the Public Private Partnership with ANRD and ESH, one application has been approved, with a further three anticipated this month. Support has also been given in fruit tree propagation and work has started with the Growers Co-operative to increase storage for local produce.  In relation to potential hotel developers and investor interests, draft copies of the Cost Benefit Analysis and Independent Investor Study reports had been received – ESH has provided feedback on these reports and is now awaiting the final copies due later this month.

Derek Thomas

Deputy Chairman

Economic Development Committee

SHG

12 November 2013