RIGA - Ombudsman Juris Jansons is urging the government to revise social benefits in accordance with the government's own criteria, as the Ombudsman Office's spokesman Edgars Lakutis told LETA.
Jansons is not happy with the outgoing Cabinet of Ministers' actions regarding social benefits. The government has informed the ombudsman that it is important to regularly review the amounts of social benefits based on socioeconomic indicators, but at the same time it is equally important to take into account possibilities of the state budget.
In addition, work on a new government declaration is currently under way, which may also include initiatives to improve support for families with children, said the government.
Jansons previously said that prices of goods and services, as well as the average wage in Latvia have increased significantly, while the amounts of benefits and allowances have not been revised for several years. In particular, he is concerned about child benefits and benefits paid to parents of disabled children.
Jansons called on the government to review the amount of child benefits by November 1, taking into account inflation and changes in the average wage in Latvia. He also suggested that the government by January 1, 2023 reform the legal framework by incorporating into the Law on State Allowances uniform criteria for determining and reviewing the amount of social benefits based on socioeconomic indicators.
In its reply to Jansons, the Cabinet explains that social benefits are financed from the state budget, therefore the amounts of these benefits depend on political decisions and financial situation in the country.
According to the government, social benefits are not and have never been defined as people's primary or only income.
Also, if the amounts of social benefits were revised based only on socioeconomic indicators, this would place a disproportionate burden on the budget and have a negative impact on other people's social security.
Jansons disagrees with the government's arguments, pointing out that the government was asked to review the benefits in accordance with the criteria it itself had set. He emphasizes that prices of children's goods and services have increased in Latvia, the average salary has also increased, but child benefits have not been revised, although the birth rate has been decreasing since 2015. This means that the budget funds for the payment of child benefits have also decreased.