THE Assistance To The Poor (ATTP) programme is set for an overhaul as the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality has decided to conduct a verification process to ascertain if all the beneficiaries are deserving and indeed cannot afford to pay for municipal services.The decision was taken at a Mayoral Committee meeting held on February 8 at the City Hall Council Chambers. In a media statement, the municipality said it has come to their attention that a number of residents who can pay for services are receiving ATTP. This actually reduces the municipality’s ability to provide free services to indigent residents in the long term due to the massive financial strain it creates.This verification process is being rolled out to ensure that only deserving recipients who legitimately cannot pay for services are benefiting from the programme. Currently, the ATTP policy applies to all the residents whose properties are valued at less than R100 000, irrespective of the household income. This has led to a financial burden on the municipality from residents who in fact are not legitimate ATTP beneficiaries as they do not meet the requirements, but are still receiving free services.The Mayoral Committee agreed also to accommodate property owners who have properties that are valued at more than R100 000, if they meet the ATTP criteria.“When we took over as the new government, we made a commitment to be a pro-poor government and deliver basic services to deserving households,” Executive Mayor Athol Trollip said.“We remain committed to providing basic services to the poor, but we also need to take into account the fact that some families are benefitting from the ATTP while they can afford to pay for services rendered,” Trollip said.The mayor said people could no longer take advantage of free basic services when they could afford to pay. As such, the municipality will stop providing free services to those residents who do not meet ATTP criteria, which will be determined through a verification process.“A proper analysis of each beneficiary status will be conducted to verify if the individual is in a position to pay for municipal services rendered.“No services will be interrupted until the verification process has been completed and the municipality is satisfied with the outcome,” Trollip said.