The GSD has analysed the press release by the Directors of Gibraltar Community Care Limited (“GCC”), in response to the GSD’s request for a statement, explaining the changes to the Community Officer Scheme entitlements. Although the directors state that the changes are as a result of a study as to “the fair application of payments made by GCC in keeping with its Charitable objectives” it begs the question as to whether its finances are now being stretched.
Roy Clinton the GSD Shadow Minster for Public Finance observed:
“We have for a number of years now been seeking information and asking questions about Community Care and the investment of its cash reserves so as to ensure the current level of benefits are sustainable. Whereas the last audited accounts of GCC for 30 June 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. Payments to Community Officers cost GCC £4.7 million 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.
The Directors must accept that although operating 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 manage their finances, most of whom do not enjoy six figure pensions. 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.
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? Gibraltar’s pensioners need reassurance and a clear answer from GCC and the Government.”