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Anti-inflation aid / Our families receive little compared to their neighbors, the package changes that. But it has a catch – stand.sk

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A passionate debate has been going on for weeks about a package to help families from Igor Matovič’s workshop, for which 83 deputies voted late last night. The passions will probably not stop in the coming days. It is expected that President Zuzana Čaputová will not use the right of veto, as the package has undergone a shortened legislative procedure. In this debate, emotions prevail over facts. On the one hand, it is said that OĽaNO leader is a lousy finance minister, on the other hand, SaS proposals are associated with fascist family screening. And the opposition is talking about stupid ideas and monkey asses. In short, Matovic’s party points out that families deserve help and have a higher risk of falling into poverty. Opponents warn that the package, which should cost the state 1.2 billion euros a year, we can not afford. And also the fact that Slovak middle-class families do not need help in addition, so the money could be used, for example, to subsidize heat pumps. What do the data say about the situation of Slovak families? One thing is clear. Systematic family support has been neglected by the state for years. Although popular measures such as free lunches and trains appeared, there was a lack of a constructive view that would really shed light on the structure of helping families. International organizations of which we are members, such as the OECD, also regularly point to this fact. Statistics show that support is lower than in neighboring countries. Worse than Romania It is probably no surprise that the Nordic countries give the most support to families, and neighboring Hungary and Poland, which are known for their pro-family orientation, are also high in the rankings. However, Slovakia is also ahead of Slovakia, which is no longer so generous. In this country, only families up to a certain income threshold are entitled to child benefits. However, these statistics do not give an overall picture of what support real children in the country receive. It only talks about the total amount of money spent on this purpose. What families really get also depends on how many children there are in the country or the cost of living. The European Statistical Office offers data that also take these factors into account. The following chart shows how much money in family benefits goes to each child. Quantity is expressed in purchasing power parity, which is a unit that takes into account differences in the cost of living between countries. This makes the comparison more authoritative. Here is Slovakia in the last places. One child also gets more than in our country. The clear champion is Luxembourg, which gives almost twice as much per child as Germany, which is in second place in the ranking. However, this is a specific case that we will get to. Proponents of the package repeatedly refer to statistics according to which Slovak multi-family families are among the most at risk of poverty. A poor Luxembourgian would be a rich Slovak This graph also confirms this, but the question is what poverty is. These statistics provide information on how many households have a lower income than most households (the threshold is defined as 60 percent of median income). Therefore, they cannot afford the standard of living that is common to most people in the country. As the Council on Budgetary Responsibility explains about poverty, this is so-called relative poverty, because it means something different in each country. At the same time, it explains why Luxembourg has such a high risk of falling into poverty. The incomes of most people in this country, where many banks are located, are very high and can therefore afford luxury holidays several times a year or change cars every five years. Therefore, some experts consider the so-called rate of material deprivation as a better indicator. It looks at whether households can afford to face unexpected expenses, how often they eat meat or go on holiday. So there are basically two approaches to measuring poverty – through spending or income. The Council on Budgetary Responsibility points out that the first approach is more important in our legislation, as it is the definition of the subsistence minimum. This is a theoretical figure that reflects household expenditure on basic needs. Households with an income below the subsistence level fall into the category of absolute poverty. The Council then compares the two concepts for the definition of poverty. “In 2004, the subsistence level was higher than the poverty line for a couple with two children, but at present the subsistence level is about half the poverty line,” he points out. In practice, this means that although the number of families with two children falling below the income poverty line has increased, the number of recipients of benefits that would help them has, on the contrary, decreased. The reason is simple – the height as well as the composition of the subsistence minimum is insufficiently re-evaluated. At the same time, this is important not only for people who are really in material need, but basically for everyone. The amount of other benefits is derived from the subsistence level, but also the amount of the tax bonus, the non-taxable part of the tax base or the parental allowance. That is why many other countries have made an extraordinary increase in this basic indicator to help people with increased spending. Measures lacking courage Apart from the issue of the definition of poverty, the Council on Budgetary Responsibility has recalculated the effects of the proposed package as well as the one-off measures already agreed. Comparisons in euros are often used in the debate, but points out that the chairman of the Council on Budgetary Responsibility, Ján Tóth, “it is more appropriate to compare the percentage increase in revenue in order to correctly compare the change in the standard of living of individual income groups”. These graphs clearly show that the percentage income of households with the lowest incomes will increase the most. As you can see in the chart, this is mainly due to the contributions to the rings and this can be a problem. The poorest families often have difficulty covering current expenses, such as buying winter boots for children, school bags or dentist’s fees. Here, “ring” will not help them. How many people are we actually talking about? From this graph, it may seem that there are relatively few large families at high risk of falling into poverty, if we count households with three or more children, there are only a little over 74,000. However, if we look at how many children there are, we will find that there are more than 500,000 of them, which is not a negligible number at all. That child support should be higher is true, and the OECD also points this out regularly. Parliament approved the family package at first reading and may soon be approved definitively. In addition, the money is definitely going for the families. They will certainly use the contributions for the rings (if the whole system manages to operate). However, again, this is only an increase in direct financial support. In addition, money will be pleasing, but one could also dare to run pro-family reforms, ie increase the availability of kindergartens, facilitate flexible working hours for parents or modernize and improve education.

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