Thursday, 27 January 2022

Minister Says Final Bill on Social Welfare Meets Associations' Demands

ZAGREB, 27 Jan 2022 - Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy Minister Josip Aladrović said on Thursday the government's final social welfare bill met the demands of associations of persons with disabilities, primarily by increasing certain allowances and eliminating the means test.

"Between two readings the government increased certain allowances, removed the means test. Practically all associations of persons with disabilities had asked for it, and we met their demands."

The minister stressed that amendments had been accepted regarding all five chamber laws and penalties for those unlawfully providing social services.

"The system will undergo reorganisation this year. We believe a good result has been achieved," he said.

Asked why the request of parents-caretakers was not met and they will continue to lose the right to their allowance immediately upon their child's death, the minister said a solution would be offered through the Labour Market Act.

"Or, more specifically, through the Employment Service because we believe that that allowance is the most similar to the unemployment benefit," he said.

As for the hospitality sector's warning that there will be problems with finding seasonal workers this year, Aladrović said that labour imports had been rising drastically for several years.

"I expect the increase to continue, but also domestic labour to be activated. Compared to 2019, there are practically 70,000 more workers, or 40,000 more than in 2021. It shows the trends and that the labour market will be very strong in 2022," he said.

Asked about travel agencies' wondering if job-keeping measures for the sector would be maintained, Aladrović said the government would back all those that had been affected by the coronavirus crisis and that it would define more detailed measures on Friday.

Friday, 5 November 2021

Social Welfare Has to Be Available to Everyone, Says Human Rights Ombudswoman

ZAGREB, 5 Nov 2021 - Human Rights Ombudswoman Tena Šimonović Einwalter believes that it is essential that the new Social Welfare Act establish a good welfare system and make entitlements and services available to everyone, including people living in rural areas and on the islands.

"It is essential to establish a well-organised welfare system, with appropriate capacities, and entitlements and services have to be available to everyone, including people living in rural and isolated areas and on the islands. Allowances should ensure a significant decrease in poverty or facilitate coming out of poverty, while the reform should focus on citizens who are beneficiaries of the social welfare system," Šimonović Einwalter says in her comments on the social welfare bill.

She welcomes the positive changes which include a guaranteed minimum allowance, accommodation and home help for all beneficiaries of welfare assistance. She also welcomes the increased penalties for anyone providing services for the elderly who have violated the law.

Necessary to be precise with legal provisions

Šimonović Einwalter says that it is important for legal provisions to be as precise as possible so that in practice they are interpreted correctly and equally.

"It is necessary to list welfare entitlements to ensure legal security, but also so they are visible, particularly to beneficiaries in the system," she says.

She believes that the bill needs to significantly relieve employees at welfare centres and decrease the number of  their public powers, particularly for those who are not directly tied to the welfare system.

She says that centres currently have 145 powers that are not sufficiently directed to the needs of beneficiaries. "Relieving them would ensure timely and quality protection for beneficiaries with regard to preventing the tragedies that we have unfortunately witnessed," she said.

Šimonović Einwalter lists a series of proposals to improve the bill.

 "Considering the novelty the bill brings related to establishing a social welfare institute, it is particularly important to investigate the possible effects of centralising the system and changing the status of welfare centres, as well as to hold additional consultations on these proposals," she says.

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