For the month of December alone, close to 500 new and returning people turned up at the Culloden Road offices of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) to make claims, according to NIS spokesman John Springer.
Springer, the former secretary to the NIS Tribunal, did not give any idea of the total paid out in claims for the period, but said yesterday that unemployed people were taking full advantage of the recent extension, from six to ten months, of the window for filing for unemployment benefits.
He also said it had assisted “greatly” in the midst of tough economic times.
“If our unemployment [benefits] had stopped in six months, I’m not sure where our country would be at this point in time. So the extra four months that have been added to the unemployment has assisted Barbadians greatly, in that they can continue to spend and live a decent lifestyle,” he said.
Latest data from the Barbados Statistical Service, and supported by the Central Bank of Barbados, put the rate of unemployment at 12.5 per cent up to the end of September 2011.
Springer, who has worked in the NIS benefits section for 14 years, was speaking at a review meeting of the Canadian Farm Labour Programme
at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, attended by workers preparing to take up jobs on Canadian farms.