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Czech Labor Office calls spam e-mail about Romani people "lies and nonsense"

Prague, 1.8.2013 23:10, (ROMEA)

Yet another dishonest e-mail is spreading online in which alleged author Jiří Máška describes how Romani people are reportedly "getting rich" by drawing welfare. The hoax e-mail has also been sent more than once to the e-mail address of news server Romea.cz.

The General Directorate of the Labor Office of the Czech Republic has responded to the e-mail with a press release calling it a "bunch of lies and nonsense". News server Romea.cz publishes that press release in full translation below.

Press release of the Labor Office of the Czech Republic:  Welfare is given only to the truly needy

Recently a story has been making the rounds online in which Jiří Máška, who signs the e-mail, describes the story of a Romani man who reportedly told him how to "get rich", among other things, by drawing welfare. Because this story is simply a bunch of lies and nonsense, the General Directorate of the Labor Office of the Czech Republic (ÚP) considers it necessary to explain the actual state of affairs with the welfare system in this country.

According to the author of this e-mail, the "instructions" for how to get the largest possible amount of money out of a municipality or from the state involve giving birth to one child per year. According to the e-mail, one supposedly suddenly picks up a check for CZK 230 000 after each birth. 

This is utter nonsense. First and foremost, the maximum total amount that a parent might be awarded per child from the parental benefit is CZK 220 000. The amount of the benefit and the length of time over which it will be awarded can only be chosen under the following circumstances:  At least one parent must have, on the day the child is born, income corresponding to 70 % of 30 installments of the daily subsistence requirement (DVZ). That information is necessary for calculating the financial aid to be provided during maternity leave. If the parents' income exceeds the DVZ, the most the applicant can hope to receive is a maximum of CZK 11 500 per month. If their income is lower than or equal to 70 % of 30 installments of the DVZ, then the most they can hope to draw on is CZK 7 600 per month. If neither parent can show income on which to base any calculations, then the parental benefit is awarded in a non-adjustable monthly amount of CZK 7 600 until the end of the child's ninth month. After that, the amount is reduced to CZK 3 800 monthly until the child turns four years old. It is also essential to realize that parental benefits may only be drawn for one child at a time and are usually drawn for the youngest.

As part of the state social support system (SSP) there is another benefit given directly to a child, the child supplement. This is a basic, long-term benefit for families with children to help them cover the costs associated with feeding and raising offspring who would otherwise go unprovided-for. One qualifies for this benefit when the determinative income of the family is lower than 2.4 times the subsistence income for their family size. When deciding to award this benefit, the income that is determinative is the income reported during the previous calendar year, which includes the parental benefit. The amount of the child supplement depends on the age of the child.

The option of distributing these monies in advance in the form of a check does not exist. Benefits are disbursed by the ÚP monthly, either directly to a bank account or sent through the post office for retrieval in cash.

Yet another fabrication in this e-mail is the claim that if someone just arranges for a landlord to charge him the highest amount of rent possible, he can then make money receiving thousands of crowns in benefits from municipalities for housing and utilities. First and foremost, such behavior would be criminal. Should the ÚP or any another public administration body learn of such processes, that body would be obligated to immediately submit the information to the criminal investigation authorities, i.e., the Police of the Czech Republic. As far as the ÚP's powers are concerned, it would be able to deduct the amount of such overpayment from the welfare disbursed in order to recover it from the person concerned (and in critical cases a collections agency could also be involved).  

In this context, the ÚP considers it important to emphasize that no municipalities are involved in paying individuals' rent. The author of this e-mail is probably thinking of the housing contribution in the SSP system, or the housing supplement that is available as part of aid to those in material distress. The costs of housing, i.e., for energy and rent, must be regularly documented by the recipients of those benefits on both a monthly and quarterly basis. The relevant bodies establish the specific amount of the benefit according to the actual and the recognized costs of housing. In either case, the families or individuals must be low-income to qualify.

As far as the housing contribution goes, the owner or the renter of an apartment who is registered at that address as a permanent resident is entitled to this contribution only if 30 % of the family's income is not enough to cover the costs of housing (35 % in Prague) and if that 30 % (in Prague 35 %) of the family's income is lower than the relevant normative costs as established by law. Both benefits can be paid out over the course of 10 years for a maximum of 84 months only. The only exceptions are for households exclusively occupied by people over the age of 70 or households exclusively occupied by persons living with disabilities who reside in apartments that have been either designed to meet their needs or modified for them.

The author of this e-mail full of fables also mentions how easy it is to get financing in order to purchase clothes, coal, or food. He claims a five-member family can make up to CZK 30 000 monthly through such benefits.

By all indications he must be referring to aid to those in material distress, i.e., the subsistence contribution. These benefits cannot, in the case of such a household, ever come anywhere near that amount of money. They are based on the legally-prescribed amount of the minimum subsistence income.

The author of this e-mail doesn't forget to mention other benefits he believes are within reach. He mentions benefits for purchasing satchels and other school supplies for children.

Benefits for such purposes are given to the socially needy as part of extraordinary immediate assistance. However, even in this regard it is not possible to misuse the funds provided for these purposes. In order for an applicant to receive them, he must submit hefty proof of the reasons why he is applying. The local ÚP is naturally prepared to provide financing as quickly as possible so that applicants do not experience unnecessary problems. At the same time, however, these offices evaluate the individual cases in great detail. They keep records about what the applicant uses the money for and require the clients to submit the required documentation. Last but not least, each ÚP is also able, should there be doubts that the money provided will be correctly used, to pay retailers directly or, in the case of after-school activities, camps, etc., to pay schools directly.

When requesting any benefits, whether from the state social support system or aid to those in material distress, the applicant and beneficiary must also provide proof of all sources of income. Should an applicant conceal income, he could be fined, and the ÚP will seek reimbursement from him.

The online "instructions for getting rich" end with the imaginary ethnic Romani person praising the option of "purchasing", for example, electronic items through layaway and them taking them to the nearest pawn shop. The author also emphasizes that the best way to access benefits is to use force and pressure against ÚP staff. 

It is highly likely that such a scenario would involve the commission of a felony. Moreover, when evaluating requests for aid to those in material distress, the ÚP always reviews all of the applicant's sources of income and takes an interest in what assets the applicant owns.  

If clients attempt to pressure bureaucrats through physical or verbal threats, this could be a form of felony behavior, and information about such incidents would be immediately communicated to the criminal prosecution authorities. It is true that ÚP staff sometimes encounter such behavior, but this is definitely not exclusively the province of Romani clients. 

All of our workplaces have taken the necessary security measures and collaborate at the scene of such incidents with municipal or state police or with private security services. The staff does not submit to either threats or violence.

ryz, press release of the Labor Office of the Czech Republic
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Hoax, Sociální, Sociální dávky, Czech republic, news, Racism, Roma



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