Bill Proposes Financial Aid For Kenyans With Low Incomes

February 27, 2024

If the National Assembly passes a bill sponsored by Suna West MP Peter Francis Masara, Kenyans earning low wages will qualify for financial assistance from the government.

The Social Assistance (Amendment) Bill, 2023 outlines specific criteria to identify eligible recipients for social assistance.

Masara emphasized that all Kenyans seeking to join the program must demonstrate their low-income status. These individuals will be categorized as employed but unable to fulfill their basic needs.

The lawmaker further stipulates that the individual should provide evidence that the lack of a higher income is not a result of negligence or lack of effort.

Upon approval of the bill, the Social Assistance Authority will conduct a bi-annual review of the list to determine the ongoing eligibility of individuals for social assistance.

“The bill proposes to require the Cabinet Secretary in consultation with the Authority to regularly review the interval payments and the amounts payable under social assistance to persons in need to reflect the changes in the cost of living,” the Bill stipulates.

Suna West Member of Parliament Peter Francis Masara addressing a public event

According to the bill, the term “cost of living” refers to the expenses associated with acquiring goods and services, as gauged by variations in the consumer price index reported by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS). Additionally, the Cabinet Secretary, in collaboration with the Authority, will need to formulate a plan to implement this proposal.

Moreover, the bill suggests that the Social Assistance Authority should partner with county governments to deliver social services to elderly individuals in all counties. It also advocates for regular reviews of the financial aid provided to the elderly to account for inflation and the increasing cost of living.

“This is to ensure that elderly members of the Kenyan society can live dignified lives regardless of their age,” it adds.

The main aim of the Bill is to amend the Social Assistance Act, No. 24 of 2013, mandating the Social Assistance Authority to cooperate with county governments and the National Health Insurance Fund in delivering social assistance to elderly Kenyans.

Under this amendment, the elderly are entitled to receive shelter and healthcare services, including free cancer screening and treatment, kidney treatment, and counseling services.

“The expansion of the social protection coverage to include low-income earners and the NHIF coverage for the elderly persons is estimated to cost approximately Sh194.3 billion in year one of implementation,” Masara said in his submissions to the Budget and Appropriations Committee for consideration of the Bill.

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