The House of Representatives has approved changes in support for Ukrainian refugees

The House of Representatives has approved changes in support for Ukrainian refugees

The House approved changes in support for Ukrainian refugees< /p> Meeting of the Chamber of Deputies – illustrative photo.

Prague – Support for Ukrainian refugees before the Russian military invasion is likely to change. From July, the conditions for entitlement to a humanitarian benefit, which should be more targeted, will be tightened. The new rules will get the payment of the so-called solidarity allowance for accommodation of Ukrainians with temporary protection in households and free emergency accommodation. The amendments will be introduced by the government amendment to the laws called lex Ukraina, which was approved today by the House of Representatives with the votes of almost all the deputies present. According to the cabinet, the changes are intended to increase the share of Ukrainians in covering living expenses and contribute to their integration into society.

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As of April, the draft will transfer the assistance centers for assistance to Ukraine from the regions to the Ministry of the Interior. In addition, it will enact the registration of all employment agreements of Ukrainian refugees. The opposition movement ANO pushed for the deletion of provisions that were supposed to expand the possibilities of obtaining a speech therapist qualification due to the growth in demand for these services in connection with the influx of child refugees. Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Marian Jurečka (KDU-ČSL) took a positive stance on the amendment proposal, the social committee did not agree on the position. According to ANO MPs, expanding the possibility of obtaining the qualification of a speech therapist would lead to a “reduction of requirements for the performance of the profession”. The bill will now be sent to the Senate for consideration.

According to the amendment, the right to a humanitarian benefit and its amount will depend on the minimum living wage for the first five months after the grant of temporary protection. After this time, the entitlement and the amount of the benefit will be linked to the subsistence minimum, with the exception of people who, for example, cannot work due to age, caring for a small child, disability or studies. When assessing the entitlement to the benefit and its amount, the authorities will be based on the applicant's income in the Czech Republic and abroad and on his financial circumstances, which the House of Representatives, on the proposal of a group of coalition MPs, has expressly limited to the Czech Republic. However, sworn statements will still be possible.

Jurečka spoke of “better and fairer” inspection conditions. However, MP Igor Hendrych (ANO) pointed out that, regarding the possibility of checking the status of Ukrainians' bank accounts, it is now “at point zero” with regard to bank secrecy.

Deductible housing costs determined by the government will also play a role in the amount of the benefit. This is related to the fact that the amendment will retain the option of a solidarity household allowance only for cases in which people accommodate refugees in their own homes. The state is no longer supposed to send money to those accommodation providers who gave Ukrainians an entire apartment to live in. Refugees have to pay their own expenses.

Currently, the monthly humanitarian allowance for the first half of the year amounts to 5,000 crowns per person, after which it corresponds to the living wage. From the second month, the authorities determine the social, income and property situation of the applicant. Newly, according to preliminary calculations in the explanatory report, the monthly allowance for a mother with an income of 20,000 crowns and two children over ten years of age would be 3,840 crowns for the first month. To a mother with the same income and two children under the age of ten, the state would pay 3,506 crowns after half a year. In both cases, countable housing costs of 12,000 crowns are assumed. A mother with an income of 15,000 crowns and a five-year-old child staying in the Czech Republic for a long time and living in a hostel with deductible costs of 7,200 crowns would receive 550 crowns.

The amendment will also limit the time refugees can stay in free emergency accommodation. They will be able to use such dwellings for a maximum of 150 days, the so-called vulnerable persons will get an exception. According to the template, refusal of the offered accommodation or leaving it for more than ten days without the knowledge of the operator will be deemed to have expired. ANO MPs expressed concern that there would not be enough other apartments for Ukrainians. The House of Representatives rejected their accompanying resolution, in which they would have called on the Ministry of Regional Development to prepare measures to increase the availability of rental and cooperative housing.

The bill will enable the State Investment Support Fund to financially support the provision of a long-term vacant apartment to people with temporary protection. For example, these will be small investments to eliminate defects that prevent renting an apartment.

TK of the Minister of Social Affairs to situation of Ukrainian refugees

MPs observed a minute of silence for the victims of the Russian military invasion of Ukraine

At the beginning of today's session, MPs observed a minute's silence for the victims of the Russian military invasion of Ukraine, which began a year ago. The opposition then again mostly unsuccessfully tried to change the program of the meeting, this block lasted more than an hour even with the vote. But the amendments were also proposed and enforced by the coalition, so it is practically certain that the Chamber of Deputies will not return today to approve the controversial changes in the selection of councilors for Czech Television and Czech Radio.

“It's a sad anniversary,” said the president of the lower house Markéta Pekarová Adamová (TOP 09) about the one-year duration of Russian aggression towards Ukraine. She recalled that immediately after the start of the invasion, the House of Representatives adopted a condemning resolution and then another resolution on the situation in Ukraine, and she also recalled the appearance of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi in front of deputies and senators via remote connection. Pekarová Adamová also praised the residents' solidarity and assistance to Ukrainian refugees.

At the proposal of the chairman of the ODS club Mark Benda, the House of Representatives inserted three more points in addition to the two already listed before the controversial amendment on changes in the election of councilors of both public media. It is a modification of the information obligations of investment funds, an amendment to increase the safety of drinking water and a modification of the conditions for entitlement to cheaper calls for poorer residents. Benda justified his proposal on the assumption that the opposition would block the approval of the bill on Czech Television and Czech Radio, just as it did on Wednesday. The House also nodded to Patrik Nacher's (YES) request that the approval of his amendment on strengthening the position of the financial arbitrator in court proceedings be included on today's agenda. two dozen members of this bloc met and again described the opposition's progress as obstruction. Opposition legislators, especially from the ANO movement, finally put forward around 15 demands for program adjustments. The House rejected them except for Nacher's proposal.

The House then began to approve changes in support for refugees from Ukraine. Some parts of the government's amendment to the laws called lex Ukraine are to be effective from April.