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Ministry of Family: balance of two years

16-11-2017

The “Family 500 plus” programme, improved quality of life of Polish families, increase in fertility rate, reduction of poverty, development of care for children under the age of 3, record low unemployment, restoration of the retirement age, raising the amount of pensions, and actions for seniors – these are only some of the achievements of the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy in the past two years.

 

The setting up of the government of Prime Minister Beata Szydło set the beginning of changes in the approach to family. Fragmentary, selective and not very coordinated actions were replaced by the well-thought-out family policy. It gained real importance along with the introduction of the “Family 500 plus” programme.

 

Restoring dignity of families

 

The “Family 500 plus” programme was created primarily to counteract the negative demographic situation. The programme also provides financial support to families bringing up children. Currently, the 500+ support covers 2.6 million families raising 4 million children. Thanks to the “Family 500 plus” programme, there has a clear decrease in extreme poverty – while in 2015 it reached 6.5%, a year later it was 4.9%, i.e. 1.6 percentage points less.

 

Increase in fertility rate

 

The “Family 500 plus” programme also translates into the number of births. In 2017, it can amount to as much as 400-410 thousand. In turn, compared to 2016, this would mean an increase of 7%. Only from January to August, 272 thousand children were born in Poland. Compared to the same period a year ago, it is an increase of 18.9 thousand children.

 

More money for day nurseries

 

According to the 2013 Social Diagnosis (Diagnoza Społeczna 2013), Poles give up having children due to difficulties with reconciling work and parenthood, as well as lack of places or too high fees in day nurseries.

 

Development of the care system for the youngest is supported from the state budget as part of the ministerial programme of development of childcare facilities “Toddler+.” As a result, since 2016, the increase in the number of places has significantly accelerated – to about 5.6 thousand places. In 2017, 12 thousand more places are expected.

 

The government knows how to make day nurseries more accessible, while reducing the fees for children's stay in these institutions.Under the programme “Toddler+,” as much as PLN 450 million a year will be allocated for care facilities for the youngest. It is three times more than currently. Moreover, the increased envelope for care facilities for the little ones is almost the equivalent of half the amount (PLN 1 billion) spent over the year on day nurseries by all communes in Poland in which such facilities already exist.

 

More attractive Large Family Card

 

Financial support for families with children includes not only the child benefit of 500+ or the network of places of care for children under the age of 3, but also the Large Family Card (Karta Dużej Rodziny). Thanks to the package of changes for families adopted by the parliament in July 2017, the Large Family Card will be available as a smartphone application. As a result, it will be possible to use the card immediately after it is granted, without having to wait for the plastic media to be printed. The plastic card will remain in circulation. The change will enter into force on 1 January 2018.

 

Due to the amendment of the existing regulations, all parents who have ever had at least three children to provide for will gain the right to the Large Family Card. The new solution will start to apply in early 2019.

 

So far, over 1.8 million Cards have been issued for 391.7 thousand large families. More than 2.5 thousand companies and institutions offer discounts.

 

Aid from the “For Life” Programme

 

Soon after the introduction of the “Family 500 plus” programme, the government introduced another family policy instrument – the “For Life” programme. It is a comprehensive support offer for families bringing up children with disabilities. As part of the “For Life” programme, an additional
one-time benefit of PLN 4000 has been provided for. A family is entitled to it when a child is born with severe and irreversible handicap or an incurable disease that threatens his or her life.

 

Additionally, the “For Life” programme involves, among others, support for the disabled through development of sheltered housing, vocational activation of carers of disabled people, and the strengthening of the preventive aspect of tasks of the family assistant.

 

Record low unemployment

 

The increase in the economic security of Polish families is also greatly influenced by the very good situation on the labour market. Since the establishment of the government of Prime Minister Beata Szydło, the unemployment rate has been gradually decreasing. In October, it decreased to 6.6%. Importantly, according to the BAEL (research on the economic activity of the population) and the Eurostat, the unemployment rate is already below 5%. Such a result puts Poland in the lead of the countries with the lowest unemployment rate, as we rank 5th.

 

Good situation on the labour market

 

The number of employed people is also clearly increasing. It is already 16.5 million people. The increase in employment is also connected with the record number of job offers. But that is not all. The government is also allocating large amounts to active forms of counteracting unemployment.

 

With a view to the low earners, in 2017, the government raised the minimum wage from PLN 1850 to PLN 2000. From next year, there will another pay rise for employees receiving the minimum wage, which will then amount to PLN 2010.

 

Thanks to the limitation of abuse of civil law contracts, the introduction of the minimum hourly wage or the liquidation of the so-called first day employment syndrome, Poles have felt greater stability of employment.

 

The retirement age restored

 

Since 1 October 2017, the retirement age of 60 years for women and 65 years for men has been restored. As a result, 400 thousand people gained the right to pension. The purpose of restoration of the retirement age is primarily to allow each insured person to make an individual decision about when to cease professional activity. The result of delaying retirement by one year is about 8% higher benefit. This is one of the largest increases in the world.

 

At the beginning of July 2017, the Polish Social Insurance Institution (ZUS) appointed nearly 600 pension advisers in all its units. From the beginning of July to 10 November this year, around 2 million people used the services of the advisers.

 

The ZUS has secured funds for payment of all benefits.This applies to pensions already granted, benefits for people who have already applied for pension, and benefits for people who decide to apply for retirement in the future.

 

Increase in minimum pension

 

In order to improve the living conditions of the poorest seniors, since 1 March 2017, the minimum old age pension, invalidity pension and survivor's pension have increased from PLN 882.56 to PLN 1000. In this way, these benefits reached the level of 50% of the minimum wage.

 

Since 1 October this year, the right to the minimum pension has been granted to women who have career length of at least of 20 years and men who can demonstrate 25 years of career. Before the change, job seniority which authorised to the minimum pension was 22 years for women and 25 years for men.

 

Higher disability benefits

 

But that is not the end. There has also been an increase in the amount of the partial disability pension (from PLN 676.75 to PLN 750) and the social pension (from PLN 741.35 to PLN 840).

 

In the case of the automatic pensions granted instead of the invalidity pension, the monthly increase in the benefits will amount to PLN 107.44 gross (PLN 1289.28 over the year), and in case of the change from the partial disability pension to PLN 63.25 gross (PLN 759 over the year).

 

Senior policy

 

The most important measures, implemented within the framework of the senior policy over the last two years, include the “Senior+” Multi-annual Programme for 2015-2016 addressed to the local government units. Its objective is to increase active participation of seniors in the social life through development of the network of “Senior+” Day Care Centres and “Senior+” Clubs.

 

In 2017, a total of 257 facilities of day care for seniors were functioning. Compared to 2015, the number of facilities increased by as much as 160. At the same time, over the last two years, 221 centres received funding, including 97 in 2016 and 124 in 2017.

 

The Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy is also implementing the Government Programme for Social Participation of Senior Citizens (ASOS). During two years of implementation of the ASOS Programme, the number of active seniors increased almost twice – from 333,849 to 641,747 elderly people. In 2016, PLN 38,340 million was allocated to the ASOS Programme. That is 194.81% more than in 2012. Over the last two years, the government allocated nearly PLN 80 million to implement the ASOS programme.

 

More on the achievements and initiatives of the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy in the areas of “family,” “labour” and “seniors” in subsequent editions. 

Ministry of Family: balance of two years Ministry of Family: balance of two...
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