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No free rides: Minister advocates for property liens in some assistance cases

A warning from Community Affairs Minister Osbourne Bodden: neglect the elderly, and pay the price.

He told Cayman 27 it’s all too common for senior citizens to become reliant on government programmes for assistance. Then, when that elderly person passes away, family members turn around and make a fortune selling off the property.

He said it’s a behavior that needs to stop.

“When I was growing up here, the Pines didn’t exist, retirement homes didn’t exist,” reminisced Mr. Bodden of the times in old Cayman where families looked after their elders.

“These days people throw their old people off to one side, they don’t have anything to eat, they’re being fed by Meals on Wheels if they’re lucky, they’re being looked after by some Good Samaritan, and the family is sitting there ready to inherit the property,” said Mr. Bodden.

With pressure building on the country’s social services agencies, for example, the Needs Assessment Unit alone is facing a backlong of more than 300 permanent assistance applications, Minister Bodden wants to put a stop to the free ride. He has one idea to make it happen.

“If government is going to do for those people, then I say the lien we used to put on people’s property needs to put back on, and when we give you money and [government] take[s] care of that old person. When they pass, that property, the government has a lien on it, the debt is paid to the government when the property is sold or otherwise paid off,” said Mr. Bodden.

He told Cayman 27 the country’s social services burden can be eased in one of two ways: reducing the amount of people on the dole, or taking in additional money to compensate for the increased need.

“Government cannot be a free ride,” said the Minister. “At the end of the day, it’s taking more and more out of us. We don’t have any new taxation system measures, we’ve promised people no more taxation, how can you continue to dole out more and not take in more? It just doesn’t work.”

Mr. Bodden said while 340 cases for permanent assistance are languishing in backlog, the NAU is running up-to-date on temporary assistance applications.

Around 2,000 families are receiving temporary assistance, and 850 are on permanent assistance.

About the author

Joe Avary

Joe Avary

Joe Avary has been with Cayman 27 since 2014. He brings 20 years in television experience to the job, working hard every day to bring the people of Cayman stories that inform the public and make a difference in the community. Joe hopes his love for the Cayman Islands shines through in his informative and entertaining weather reports. If you have a story idea for Joe or just want to say hello, call him at 324-2141 or send an email to

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