Czech ministers visit excluded localities in Karviná, Labor Minister visits Chomutov
Yesterday Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec and Labor and Social Affairs Minister Michaela Marksová Tominová paid a joint visit to the Moravian-Silesian Region. The ministers specifically visited socially excluded localities in the town of Karviná.
The Labor Minister has previously spoken about how she intends to address the situation of troubled localities not only in Karviná but elsewhere in the Czech Republic. She has said the ministry will strive to increase the number of social workers in the field supporting the prevention of social unrest and the maintenance of social conciliation.
"The fight against poverty and social exclusion is among my priorities, we pledged to undertake it in the coalition agreement as well. Laws that are being designed in collaboration with the other ministries should help, such as the law on social housing or the amendment to the law on aid to those in material distress which will stop the abuse of housing subsidies," Marksová Tominová said.
Minister Chovanec assured local politicians and other citizens that the government is serious about combating troubled localities and the problems related to them. "The Ostrava area greatly suffers from the problem of socially excluded localities. However, it is necessary to recognize that almost all regions in this country suffer from this phenomenon. On behalf of myself and the government, therefore, I would like to tell you that we are working intensively on solutions that could help the regions address this situation positively. This topic needs to be addressed across the ministries, and the Prime Minister has order an inter-ministerial working group to address it and I hope we will soon be able to move from words to visible actions," the Interior Minister said in Ostrava.
According to Chovanec, the state will not be throwing its money away on what he called "pseudo-residential hotels" and entrepreneurs who traffic in human poverty, but will instead invest money into decent social housing. The Interior Minister also admitted that the existence of excluded localities generates further negative phenomena such as drugs and petty crime.
"We are sending drug producers the clear signal that we are going to fight them. During the next few weeks we will be able to present the results of this more focused fight against drug crime," he said.
The Labor Minister was in Chomutov last Thursday as well, where she paid a visit to troubled housing estates and socially excluded localities. At a meeting with the leadership of the Chomutov town hall she promised changes to the laws and support for social programs.
Marksová said that today she believes Chomutov is an example of how to properly work with socially excluded residents. "There is a maximum of preventive activity underway here so that negative phenomena do not escalate," the minister said after visiting several localities where a larger number of socially vulnerable people live, as well as the Kamínek social center.
The center provides a broad range of support services to children, entire families, and youth. "There is a lot of hard daily work behind this and no small amount of financing, but primarily the will to do something about this, the will to work in problematic localities so that even worse things don't happen here," the Labor Minister said.
According to Mayor Jan Mareš (Czech Social Democrats - ČSSD), Chomutov does not have a typical socially excluded locality but has problems in various parts of town. The town relies primarily on services in the field.
"The problems migrate around town, it depends where people move, which is why we need support in the field to go after those problems," the mayor told the Czech News Agency. As for the amendment on aid to those in material distress, it should stop the situation in which the state is paying the overpriced rents charged by the owners of apartment buildings and residential hotels through the system of additional payments and allowances for housing.
"The system is not being abused by the people who live in the residential hotels, it is being abused by the landlords who charge the overpriced rents," Minister Marksová Tominová said. She believes the amendment should take effect as of next year at the latest.
The law on public service is on a similar timeline. "However, in that case we have the hope that if the Senate convenes this summer, the law could take effect as of September," the Labor Minister said.
The Labor and Social Affairs Ministry is counting on expanding public benefit work. Instead of the state supporting workers in such programs for one year they will support them for two.
"Those jobs can be used by municipalities to hire long-term unemployed persons of all categories," the Labor Minister said. According to the Chomutov town hall, support for re-qualification should remain in the social measure package as well.
"The people here need a perspective on the future. They are 15, 16, 17 years old and we need to tell them we are counting on them," Mayor Mareš said.
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