Czech lower house approves increase to housing benefits over rising energy prices
Housing allowances in the Czech Republic are likely to increase due to the recent sharp rise in energy prices and a broader circle of beneficiaries are also likely to become eligible for them. The Government submitted an amendment to that effect to the law on welfare that was then approved under an accelerated procedure by the Chamber of Deputies on 11 January, invoking a state of legislative emergency to do so.
The bill also empowers the cabinet to decide on further benefit increases this year should electricity and gas prices continue to rise. It will now go to the Senate for consideration.
Of the 189 MPs present for the vote, 188 were in favor. Nobody cast any votes against the proposal.
According to Czech Labor and Social Affairs Minister Marian Jurečka (Christian Democrats - KDU-ČSL), the approval of the law should proceed in such a way that it will be officially on the books this month. What are called normative costs, from which the housing allowance is calculated, will be increased on a one-time basis by anywhere between CZK 1100 - 2100 [EUR 45 - 85], depending on the number of persons in the household and the type of housing.
Sub-tenants should also be able to draw the financial support for the first time. At the suggestion of Czech MP Vít Kaňkovský (KDU-ČSL), the Chamber of Deputies also wants to give housing benefits to the owners of recreational facilities who live in them permanently.
The normative cost for such properties would be the same as for apartment owners, but the holiday homes would have to meet certain housing standards in order for their owners to qualify for the benefit. According to the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry, about 2.6 billion to three billion extra crowns [EUR 106 million - 122 million] will be needed this year to disburse higher housing benefits to more people.
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