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Czech MPs propose legalizing collections of subsistence benefits

Chomutov/Prague, 26.2.2011 16:43, (ROMEA)
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Subsistence benefits should be subjected to collections and debtors should be able to sign agreements with the authorities permitting them to attach such benefits as well. Those are the amendments being proposed by Czech MPs Lenka Kohoutová (Civic Democrats - ODS) and Ivana Řápková (ODS) to the law on aid in material distress.

The amendment proposes leaving untouched only the minimum subsistence allowance of CZK 2 020 per month. The bill is now in the lower house. The government will review it before Parliament decides whether or not to adopt it.

The authors of the bill say its aim is to increase the collectability of fees and fines from welfare recipients. They claim that in practice, people who qualify for welfare tend to not pay various fees they owe or fines levied for the commission of misdemeanors.

"A person on welfare enjoys special protection and is not punishable for his or her actions," the MPs write in report justifying the bill. Working persons' salaries can be subjected to collections, but the only benefits subject to collections are parental benefits and social supplements. The amendment would strengthen the enforceability of creditors' rights.

The MPs believe those whose benefits are subjected to collections will not be made penniless. Such people will still be able to acquire support from other benefits for aid in material distress as well as from the social support system.

The town hall in Chomutov came forward with the idea of confiscating welfare benefits when Řápková was mayor there. A collections agent was used to confiscate money from rent defaulters after they collected their benefits in cash from the town hall. The Czech Government Human Rights Commissioner and the Czech ombudsman opposed the town's approach, and the Czech Justice Minister probed the constitutionality of the practice.

ČTK, Gwendolyn Albert, Czech Press Agency, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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