Illustrative photo – Headquarters of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs in Prague on April 15, 2016.
Prague – The state paid out over 6.87 billion crowns in one-off contributions of 5,000 crowns per child by the end of January. He sent the benefit to families with a gross income of up to one million crowns last year to more than 1.37 million children. This is according to the monthly reports of the Ministry of Labor on the benefits paid. Some experts on social issues criticized the setting of the benefit as too broad. The unions drew attention to the possible misuse of money from the state and insufficient control.
The five thousand benefit began to be provided to children who were not yet 18 years old on August 1 last year. It is also for children who were born last year from the beginning of August to the end of the year. With the contribution, the government wanted to mitigate the effects of inflation on families. According to the documents for the law, a total of 1.6 million children could be entitled to support. The expenses could amount to about 7.8 billion crowns.
According to data from the Ministry of Families, 6.87 billion crowns have been received by 1.37 million children since last July, when the one-time allowance law came into force. Last July, the employment offices paid out the first four hundred contributions for 2.1 million crowns. In August, they sent 451,100 benefits for almost 2.3 billion crowns. They provided the most one-off support in September, namely 680,000 for 3.4 billion crowns. In October, 119,300 children received 5,000 crowns from the state. Expenses amounted to 596.5 million crowns. In November, there were 68,400 contributions for 342 million crowns, in December 30,500 for 152.7 million crowns and in January 24,300 for 121.6 million crowns.
Recipients of child benefits automatically received the money. Others could apply for the benefit online via the Jenda portal or in person at Czech Points at town halls and regional offices from mid-August last year. Applications can be submitted until the end of this year's first semester.
Hospodářské noviny (HN) reported last week about possible abuse of the benefit. The trade unions of the labor office drew attention to this. They pointed to insufficient control of digital applications and the amount of income. At the end of the form, applicants had to honestly declare that they had an income of up to one million crowns.
Before the launch of the electronic forms, the then deputy of the Ministry of Labor and today's senior director for information technology, Karel Trpkoš, told journalists that if people were not sure of the income level, they could tick the check option. The authorities will verify their income before payment. At the time, Trpkoš assured that the income would always be checked, but only later due to the higher number of applications. According to HN, the checks are rather random. Last December, at a meeting of the parliamentary social committee, the ministry said that the authorities had rejected roughly 25,500 applications and had stopped the proceedings for another 16,700. It was roughly 5.5 percent of applications.
According to some experts on social issues, the contribution was too general and the one-time support did not help families in difficulty much. They considered it more appropriate to increase child allowances and housing allowances. Some critics then talked about bribing voters before last year's municipal elections.
The government has now added to the program statement that the state will “in appropriate cases” put more emphasis on targeted targeting of support. Economists warn against the growth of government spending. They point out that the influx of money into the economy contributes to inflation.