Thousands of single mothers across the country could be in for some much-needed help with the United Progressive Party (UPP) planning to introduce a social fund for them should the party be elected at the polls.
Political Leader of the UPP Harold Lovell announced the programme dubbed – Maintenance of Minors or ‘MoM’ – during a rally in Seaview Farm on Thursday night.
“Now this is a big problem in Antigua, it’s a big problem where a lot of single mothers have to take the fathers of their children to court and I am not saying that some of the men are not deadbeat dads but at the end of the day it’s the children who suffer.
“What we will do under this programme, we are going to create a fund called the Maintenance of Minors fund,” Lovell said.
He promised the fund would be financed in less than four months of attaining office.
“And within the first 100 days of a UPP administration, we are going to put a minimum of one million dollars in that fund and we are going to organise the programme so that where you have a father who is not working, who is doing his best but simply can’t make it, the mothers can draw from that fund for the benefit of the child,” Lovell explained.
However, the fund will not absolve fathers of their responsibility to help support their children, he warned.
“But the father is not going to get away. Once the father gets a job, and we will have a special agency that will make it easy for people to find employment, we are going to help them find the job. So, don’t bother feel that you can come and say that you are going to look for work and you can’t find work; we will help you to find one and when you get your pay, we will take the money out of your pay and it will go back into the fund.
“When the money goes back into the fund, it will be like a rotating fund. We will make sure that our children will no longer suffer as a result of fathers who are unemployed,” Lovell added.
The announcement serves as the latest promise from the UPP which has launched a series of public meetings ahead of the next general election, which has been tipped to be called earlier than constitutionally due next year.