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September 19, 2019
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Czech Government has not yet decided whether to move Agency for Social Inclusion to Regional Development Ministry

25.7.2019 8:23
Czech Labor and Social Affairs Minister Jana Maláčová before the beginning of the cabinet session on 22 July 2019. (PHOTO:  Office of the Government of the Czech Republic)
Czech Labor and Social Affairs Minister Jana Maláčová before the beginning of the cabinet session on 22 July 2019. (PHOTO: Office of the Government of the Czech Republic)

The Czech Government has not yet decided whether to move its Agency for Social Inclusion out of the Office of the Government and into the Regional Development Ministry (MMR), where it is proposed to begin working in January. The cabinet was meant to take the decision on Monday, but now will apparently do so next week.

Czech Labor and Social Affairs Minister Jana Maláčová disagrees with the relocation. "I do not believe it would be either appropriate or effective in this case," she told the Děčínský deník, the local edition of the Deník daily in Děčín.

"The MMR oversees implementation of the law on affordable housing. That, in my opinion, is a priority and the ministry should be focusing on that subject more consistently," she added.

The MMR itself agrees with relocating the Agency. "This is about an opportunity for the cross-cutting agenda of social inclusion to be included in the context of the regional activities and development the MMR is already doing, for example, in the area of housing or support for the development of cities and municipalities," MMR spokesperson Vilém Frček said.

Agency director David Beňák is not against the idea. "By moving into the Ministry for Regional Development, the Department for Social Inclusion (the Agency) would be able to dedicate itself more to the subject of housing in the context of the development of an entire region," he has posted to the Agency's official Facebook profile.

"We consider addressing questions of housing to be crucial to any progress in the area of social inclusion," he posted. "The Agency's activity would continue unchanged."

"Our consultants would continue to work in localities and to provide expert advice on introducing appropriate policies for social inclusion and the involvement of local stakeholders. Our role as facilitators to municipalities applying for European funds would also not change," the director said.

"The continuity of the Agency's work will be ensured by the upcoming Social Inclusion Strategy for 2021-2030, where the aims of the agenda of social inclusion as implemented by the Agency will be reflected," he said. The Confederation of Employers' and Entrepreneurial Associations and the Union of Employers' Associations both disagree with the relocation, however. 

According to those groups, doing so will "determine and destroy" the social inclusion agenda and budget cuts for it can be anticipated. According to the Institute for Social Inclusion (IPSI), relocation of the Agency to the MMR reveals the Government's lack of interest in the growing problem of social inclusion in the Czech Republic.

The Agency has been in operation since 2008. Currently it is a department at the Office of the Government.

It is meant to aid municipalities in coping with their problems related to ghettos or poverty. In its annual report, the Agency said it worked with 140 cities and municipalities last year with more than one-third of the impoverished localities in the Czech Republic on their territories and more than half of the country's excluded inhabitants.

ryz, voj, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Agentura pro sociální začleňování, David Beňák, MMR, MPSV



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