The Slovenia Times

Bonus for social benefit recipients scrapped


Labour Minister Ksenija Klampfer reiterated during the debate that the bonus did not have the same effect as in 2012, when it was introduced, and did not encourage people to take on a job. Instead, it encourages inactivity in a time when the labour market is in need of workforce, she said.

The bonus was meant as a reward for those receiving welfare who are willing to take on a job. Eligible for the bonus were the welfare recipients who are employed, self-employed, or included in any of the programmes of active employment policy or employment rehabilitation.

In 2014, the right to the bonus was expanded to household assistants, persons eligible for partial compensation for the loss of income and volunteers.

It was also meant as a kind of a social corrective, given that in 2012 the welfare allowance amounted to only EUR 230 a month, while it now stands at EUR 402.

The strongest opposition to eliminating the bonus was voiced by the opposition Left, which deems it an anti-social measure.

MP Matej T. Vatovec said the government had decided to make savings on the backs of the poor and that it would push the people who receive the bonus into poverty.

He said that the recipients of the bonus were mostly families with low wages and that scrapping it was "absurd" and a "disgrace for this government and coalition".

The coalition Social Democrats (SD) also denied support to the amendments for fear of their effect on the people receiving the bonus. "We must not allow individuals who are already vulnerable to slip into even greater social and financial distress," said Bojana Muršič.

The SD MP thinks scrapping the bonus should be the last resort in an effort to activate the recipients of welfare allowance to enter the labour market. Before that, the amount of the bonus could be lowered or the conditions for it made stricter, she argued.

The opposition Democrats (SDS), meanwhile, criticised the country's social policy in general, with Karmen Furman saying welfare measures were misguided and work completely depreciated.

She said that by scrapping the bonus, the government would put those who receive welfare allowance and still want to be active in the same position as those who do not wish to be active.

Also added was an amendment from the SDS under which able bodies recipients of welfare need to make themselves available for public works, otherwise their benefits would be cut in half.

Aljaž Kovačič of the senior coalition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) rejected the criticism that the government was introducing an anti-social measure. He listed the government's social policy measures, noting that the state allocated some EUR 1.3 million annually for social transfers.

Modern Centre Party (SMC) deputy Janja Sluga pointed to the growing number of citizens eligible for welfare allowance, which she finds incomprehensible given the economic growth and record high employment.

She also thinks the gap between the minimum wage and the minimum personal income was too small to encourage people to get a job. In such a situation, "people develop strategies for survival on welfare allowance", she warned.

MP Vojko Starović of the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) noted that the bonus was introduced during the crisis, when welfare allowance was really low. Moreover, the Labour Ministry is working on new measures to incentivise employment which will not affect the amount of welfare allowance, he said.

The Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), and the opposition New Slovenia (NSi) and National Party (SNS) also expressed support for the amendments.


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