Czech Gov't approves restricting housing subsidies to stop trafficking in poverty
The housing supplement provided by the Czech state to tenants in residential hotels should now be provided on the basis of the physical space being used, not per person. Rents should also be limited to the amount usually paid in a particular local area.
Czech Labor and Social Affairs Minister Michaela Marksová Tominová (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD) told the press today that the Government agrees with the proposal she has submitted to the cabinet on these issues. The operation of residential hotels should also be excluded from coverage under the Small Business Act.
Housing supplements fall under the law addressing aid to those in material distress. The Government wants to restrict the disbursal of such supplements in disproportionate amounts for unsuitable premises.
"The proposal is an interim measure between the current state of affairs and the adoption of a law on social housing. This means it will no be longer possible for the owners of residential hotels to unconscionably make money on poverty by housing people in undignified conditions in exchange for public money," the minister said.
Marksová Tominová went on to say that residential hotels will also have to uphold certain standards in future. It should no longer be the case that 10 people will be registered as living in the same room in such facilities.
Building works authorities, employment offices and public health inspectors will oversee the changes. Within the next two weeks the minister intends to submit a proposal to the Government on enhancing staffing at local employment offices for this work.
The Government presumes it will save money by restricting housing supplements in this way. However, it is not yet able to estimate how much.
The number of people receiving housing supplements and the volume of funds disbursed for such purposes have increased in recent years. In 2011 there were 24 400 recipients of such funds, with the state disbursing CZK 850 million; last year there were 65 100 recipients and the volume rose to CZK 2.8 billion.
Last month the Czech lower house supported a Senate bill to prevent overpaying residential hotel rents to the benefit of their operators. That bill should also ensure the owners of residential hotels receive housing supplements exclusively per room or per unit, not per person.
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