Croatia’s government mulls raising social allowances next year

The government mulls raising the social assistance as of next year, local Jutarnji List daily writes over information from the demography, family, youth and social policy ministry. The social allowance currently amounts to HRK 800 per person, which is nearly half of the extreme poverty line of HRK1,500. Yet, the amount of the hike, that is to be decided in Q2’19, is to depend on the budget possibilities. The ministry also mulls abolishing the maximum amount that a family can receive. Currently, the guaranteed minimum payment (ZMN) is HRK800 for the first adult in a family, HRK480 (60% of the payment to the first adult) for the second adult and HRK320 for each child. However, regardless of the number of children, the family cannot receive more than the minimum gross salary that currently amounts to HRK3,439.8. This means that large families with many children are negatively affected. The ministry argues that the change is needed as long as children account for 37% of the total number of people living under the poverty line. Moreover, according to data, more than 825,000 people live in risk of poverty, while social assistance is paid to less than 84,000 people. The draft legislation also envisages some mitigation of the strict conditions for a person to become eligible, which is one of the reasons for that small number of people to be receiving social assistance despite the large number of people at risk of poverty, the ministry has explained. Note that currently the conditions are that a person who receives a social assistance cannot own anything but the apartment he lives in, he cannot have savings or car, or cannot earn anything.

The ministry also announces a redefinition of other benefits, such as one-time assistance, which is limited to HRK2,500 for a single-member household and to HRK3,500 for a family per year. According to the plan, such assistance should serve to bridge the current, acute material difficulties. However, due to the extremely low amounts of social assistance itself, it is allocated practically to all recipients once a year.

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