**** CNS Media Release
More Support for Income Assistance Clients
All Nova Scotians deserve a chance to build a better life for themselves and their families. That is why Nova Scotians living on low incomes will get more financial support in 2020.
Starting Jan. 1, part two of the Standard Household Rate will be implemented, increasing the amounts people on income assistance receive and making the process simpler for them.
The Standard Household Rate replaces the Personal Allowance and Shelter Allowance, which currently provide clients with money for housing and basic needs.
Under those allowances, some clients do not receive the maximum amount because portions of the assistance are based on actual expenses. Under the new standard rate, all clients’ assistance will be raised to the maximum allowable. The amounts under the new standard rate will still differ between clients, based on living situation and family size.
The new rate will also have an additional increase of two per cent or five per cent for all clients. Single clients who own or rent, and, are disabled, fleeing an abusive situation, have a chronic mental, cognitive, or physical condition that limits participation in employment services, are 55 years of age or over or are youth aged 16-18, will see a five per cent increase. All others will get a two per cent increase.
The increase will be reflected on Dec. 27 payments.
“We know that people who struggle to provide food, shelter, and transportation for themselves and their families want to be self-sufficient,” says Kelly Regan, Minister of Community Services. “These changes will result in higher monthly payments and help clients who need it most.”
Government is also increasing the eligibility threshold for the Poverty Reduction Credit for the 2020 tax year. The new income threshold will be $16,000, up from $12,000. Eligible clients will start receiving the credit in July 2021 after they file their 2020 income tax return.
The increase will ensure anyone who receives the credit now will continue to get it after assistance rates go up with the introduction of the Standard Household Rate. The change also means that hundreds of new clients will be eligible.
“We’re pleased the Department of Community Services is making these changes. Single individuals and couples without children make up a large percentage of those relying on food banks for support. Knowing that this change will get more money into the hands of this vulnerable population, we’ll be working with our member agencies to help make sure people who are eligible know about the benefit.”
– Nick Jennery, executive director, Feed Nova Scotia
— in October of 2018, the province introduced the first part of the Standard Household Rate, a wage exemption that allows clients to earn more money before seeing a reduction in their income assistance. This helps clients stabilize their income while they move into the workforce
— the Poverty Reduction Credit provides tax-free payments four times a year to eligible Income Assistance clients
— the credit is available to single people and couples, without children, who have been in receipt of income assistance for the full tax year and have an adjusted annual income of $16,000 or less
— over the last few years, the department has made several changes that are helping to build income security for Nova Scotians. These include doubling allowable asset levels, increasing personal allowances, doubling the Poverty Reduction Credit, introducing the Personal Items Allowance, exempting child support payments, implementing a new wage exemption structure, and providing free bus passes to clients in Halifax Regional Municipality
— the department is also working to help young people get and retain employment with new programs such as EDGE and Career Rising, which give youth options and opportunities to explore careers in the resource sector
— poverty reduction initiatives are underway in many departments, including at Education and Early Childhood Development, which is rolling out a free pre-primary program. It is currently available in 205 schools across the province
–More information on the Poverty Reduction Credit can be found at: https://novascotia.ca/coms/noteworthy/PovertyReductionCredit.html