articles | 21 November 2014

€41 million more in social spending in 2015

The Labour Ministry will pay €41 million more in social spending next year, Minister Zeta Emilianidou said recently, mainly because of the introduction of the guaranteed minimum income (GMI).

Emilianidou said 92% of her ministry’s budget, or €843 million, concerned social transfers, which increased by €41 million.

“It is important that there is an increase in social spending during the difficult time of the economic crisis,” she told the House Finance Committee.

The minister attributed the rise in social spending on the introduction of the GMI. The government has earmarked €208 million compared with €160 million budgeted for state benefits in 2014.

Some 2,000 beneficiaries have received their GMI since July when applications were submitted.

The minister said “no one will go without GMI during Christmas.” Responding to criticism about delays, Emilianidou said it would not be right to approve applications just because there was pressure. “We have a duty to check their assets,” she said.

Emilianidou said 2,500 benefits recipients do not wish to apply for the GMI either because they found work, or because they do not want the ministry to check their financial standing.

The reviews have already unearthed widespread abuse of the system.

There have been instances of welfare recipients who own blocks of flats and hundreds of thousands of euros in deposits, and others who continued to receive benefits even after the beneficiaries’ death.

“We find many cases of people who own substantial property – for example, blocks of flats which they rent out – but have declared no income from it,” Emilianidou said earlier this month.

“In others, applicants have stated one bank account in their name, but we found three or four more, containing deposits in excess of €300,000. There have been cases of owners of property valued in excess of €1.0 million, as well as cases where benefits were being received even after the beneficiary’s death in 2010.”

Source: Cyprus Mail

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