Czech Republic's housing benefit rules are easier as of this month
The eligibility rules for housing benefits in the Czech Republic are now easier to meet, and similar simplifications have been made to the rules for parental benefits and emergency immediate aid benefits. The changes have been introduced by a Government-sponsored bill that was signed into law on 29 June by Czech President Miloš Zeman.
Prague Castle has announced the bill is now law. It has yet to be officially published in the statute books.
Zeman signed the bill on the same day it passed the Senate. Those receiving housing benefits will now just document their expenditures and income once every six months, not quarterly as they were required to do before 1 July.
The authorities will award the benefits for an open-ended period and people will not have to re-apply for them annually. It will also no longer be necessary for benefit recipients to submit a detailed accounting of their expenditure items for services associated with housing.
The monthly parental benefit for low-income parents will rise from CZK 10,000 [EUR 400] to CZK 13,000 [EUR 525] under the new law. According to the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry, such families will be able to increase their incomes during this inflationary period and are likely to draw on those resources more quickly.
The housing benefit is calculated based on the normative costs established each January by the Government based on past trends in the cost of energy, rents, and related expenditures. According to the new law, the Government will now also calculate anticipated growth in prices for years to come when setting the norm.
When applying for benefits, people will also be allowed to submit copies of documentation that will not require notarization. The Labor Office will be able to request the submission of original documents should there be doubts about their authenticity.
The law also says people are now able to submit ordinary copies of documents when applying for emergency immediate aid benefits. Such benefits will also be available to persons without assets or income who are unable to resolve their situations on their own.
One-off support in the amount of up to 15 times the existential minimum income can be applied for by victims of car crashes, fires, floods and tornadoes. Currently the emergency immediate aid benefit is the equivalent of CZK 63,750 [EUR 2,575].
That benefit can also be newly applied for by people who face the possibility of homelessness or being unable to meet their basic needs for lack of money. The overall amount that can be drawn through that benefit per year, according to the law, shall not exceed 20 times the existential minimum, or CZK 85,000 [EUR 3,435].
For one-off benefits, the applicant's income and the incomes of those in their households will also be assessed not just for the month during which the crisis happened, but also for the previous three months. According to the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry, that measure is meant to prevent people from emptying their bank accounts ahead of applying for the benefit in the speculation that doing so will increase their chances of receiving it.
Just 70 % of the incomes of pensioners will be used to calculate their eligibility instead of the entire retirement income. People will also now be able to apply for benefits in the place where they actually live and will not be required to return to the location of their registered address to apply for them.
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