50,000 children with no joy from child benefits
Increased child benefit next year gets nothing to say to tens of thousands of children in Norwegian families receiving social assistance.
The vast majority of municipalities count the child benefit allowance as income and deduct the amount before calculating how much social assistance the family will receive, writes Dagbladet. Families dependant on welfare thus receive nothing extra from an increase thereof.
Last year there were 47,878 children in families receiving reduced social assistance due to child allowance, according to figures from KOSTRA (Local Government Reporting).
Child benefit allowance will be increased next year, for the first time since 1996. KrF gained acceptance for an increase of NOK 1,000 per year from March 1st, 2019. The allowance is provided to all Norwegian families with children under the age of 18.
Amend the rules
Both The Socialists (SV) and Red (Rødt) asks the Christian Democrats (KrF) to change the rules so that the municipalities can not count child benefit allowance as income and thus reduce social assistance. Just 65 municipalities currently do so, according to Red.
The Leader of SV, Audun Lysbakken, believes the Government has not followed up the Norwegian Parliament’s (Stortinget) decision that it must review whether the benefit is to be excluded when calculating social assistance. In the state budget proposal from October, it is, however, stated that the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has considered the matter and turned it down. The Ministry believes that such a change is not a targeted measure to improve the living conditions of families with children.
KrF has also decided that child allowance should be kept outside the calculation basis for social assistance, informs their Fiscal Spokesperson, Kjell Ingolf Ropstad.
Ropstad finalised the budget negotiations with the Conservatives (Høyre), Progress Party (Frp) and Liberals (Venstre) last week. He is now preparing to lead the negotiations on KrF’s accession to the Solberg (Conservatives) lead Government.
Changes in the municipalities
– This would have been good if this creates debate around the municipalities, he says, and encourages them to stop including child benefit allowance as part of the income before social assistance is calculated.
Even so, KrF in Stavanger recently agreed to block a proposal from SV that would change this practice in that municipality, writes Vårt Land. The Deputy Mayor of Stavanger, Bjørg Tysdal Moe (KrF), informs the newspaper that they will rather look at multiple targeted measures to combat child poverty.
Red wish to exclude child benefit from welfare
Red calls on the Government to ensure that municipalities hold child benefits out of the calculation of social assistance so that tens of thousands of children are not excluded.
The proposal was delivered at a meeting of the Norwegian Parliament’s Financial Committee on Tuesday when the next year’s state budget was considered.
« The Parliament urges the Government to ensure that municipalities keep child benefit allowance outside of calculation of social assistance, and set aside funds to compensate for this in the revised national budget for 2019», the proposal from Red states.
KrFs core cause
The Leader of Red, Bjørnar Moxnes – sole MP for the Party – highlights that KrF itself points to the increase in the number of poor families as a reason why an increased child benefit is important.
– The increase is not worth much if we do not end the practice that many municipalities cut child support for those who receive social assistance. Therefore, we propose that the Government ensure that increased child allowance benefits all families – not just those who don’t receive social assistance, he tells NTB.
Moxnes praises that KrF has done more to increase child care than both the Red-Green and the bourgeois parties has in the past 20 years. The budget agreement states that child allowance is increased by NOK 1,000 a year and NOK 1,054 a month from March 1st, 2019.
– But almost 50,000 children and their families will never see hide nor hair of this money because they receive social assistance, and the municipality they live in, slash the amount since they receive child allowance. We must remedy that, the Leader of Red opinionates.
– KrF has decided that child benefit allowance should be excluded from the calculation basis for social assistance. Red’s proposal has a budgetary impact, and therefore we can not support it. We are bound by the budget agreement with the Government parties for 2019, Kjell Ingolf Ropstad states.
The Financial Committee delivered its recommendation on the next year’s state budget on Tuesday, one week later than scheduled. The Government Parties, the Conservatives, Progress Party and the Liberals reached an agreement with KrF on the 2019 budget one week ago.
KrF’s internal roadmap process resulted in the budget process being delayed by one week, which entails that the financial debate will be held on December 3rd. The deal struck last Tuesday implies that there are no further postponements.
In addition to increased child benefit, KrF received support for removing the VAT exemption from minor foreign trade effective 2020, to increase the minimum pension for single pensioners by NOK 4,000 as of next autumn and earmarking more money for staffing standards in kindergartens and schools.
Impossible to calculate save
The Federation of Norwegian Municipalities (KS), says that it is impossible to estimate how much the municipalities will save by higher child benefits leading to lower social assistance payments.
– It is not possible to calculate it with existing statistics at the national level. Additionally, it is very difficult to estimate the consequences of social assistance payments over time, says KS Director, Helge Eide, to NTB.
Eide emphasises that social assistance is individual and based on need, and dependent on fluctuations in the economy.
Eide concludes that it is up to the municipalities to decide how they calculate.
© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today