Budget specifies measures to tackle poverty and social exclusion
The 2006 budget for the MSAH contains a number of specific measures designed to support the most vulnerable in society.
They include removing the seven percent liability on housing expenses of people receiving income support. The move will affect some 70,000 households. The aim is to help prevent them getting into rent arrears and avoid eviction, which research has shown that the present seven percent liability causes. The change will enter force at the beginning of September 2006.
An index adjustment will be made to the national pension from the beginning of next year and the pension will be increased by EUR 5 from next September. The increase will benefit all people who only receive the national pension but also those in addition who receive a small earnings-related pension. The adjustment will also affect a range of benefits linked to the national pension.
The non-taxable supplement paid to people with various disabilities who are in work will be increased from EUR 9 to EUR 12. The increase aims to benefit low income recipients who take part in municipally-arranged work centre employment. Some 6,800 people receive the supplement.
In another new move, people who have been unemployed for long periods will be eligible for rehabilitation benefit if they are on drug or alcohol rehab programmes. About 3,000 people are expected to be affected by the change.
Long term unemployed people will also be given more housing benefit support when they find work. The benefit will continue unchanged for three months after a person who has found work after being unemployed for over a year. The measure will benefit some 3,000 - 5,000 people who at present receive about EUR 200 housing benefit a month.
Budget spending will also be directed at helping school dropouts complete their education and creating special forms of support to help former prison inmates return to society.
The anti-poverty measures have been drawn up based on social policy research.