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Monday, October 18, 2021

500 plus – changes to the program. Senate committees recommend that the amendment be rejected

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The act introducing changes to the motions for 500 plus was not supported by Senate committees. They spoke out on Wednesday against the draft amendment. The regulations stipulate that it will be possible to apply for 500 plus only electronically, and the payment of this benefit will only be received in a non-cash form.

The amendment to the act on state aid in bringing up children was dealt with at a joint meeting by committees of family, senior and social policy, as well as local government and state administration.

Applications for 500 plus – changes. Decision of Senate committees

The motion to reject the amendment was submitted in its entirety by Senator Magdalena Kochan. She justified that the changes proposed by the government were very controversial. Kochan pointed out that many people are still digitally excluded and may find it difficult to use the program.

– You can fill in an application with the help of a ZUS official, but how can you receive a decision if you do not have your computer? How is the person supposed to receive the notification of (benefit) award or the notification that he has not been granted this benefit and apply the appeal procedure? Senator KO asked.

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She added that the proposed solutions are unreasonable and harmful. She emphasized that a separate issue was the coordination of the service of benefits by the Social Insurance Institution.

In response, the deputy minister of the family, Barbara Socha, pointed out that the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS) was implementing the “Good Start” program on the same basis. – We are especially checking in which communes there were many applications submitted on paper and in these communes visits of ZUS employees and information campaigns are particularly organized – she emphasized.

She indicated that out of the 4.4 million entitled to the “Good Start”, 4.36 million people applied. She reminded that applications can be submitted by the end of November. – So it is happening faster than in previous years – Socha pointed out.

– On the occasion of this change, ZUS has signed an agreement with Poczta Polska and other units to help people who have problems with submitting applications – added the deputy minister.

Nine senators voted for the motion to reject the amendment, five were against and one abstained.

500 plus – changes in regulations

In the light of the new regulations, the “Rodzina 500 plus” program will be serviced by the Social Insurance Institution, and not – as it is now – by local governments. It will be possible to submit applications for the benefit only online, and the money will only be paid without cash to the bank account number indicated by the applicant.

The amendment assumes that ZUS will gradually take over cases concerning 500 plus. Cases concerning the right to child benefit for the periods prior to January 1, 2022 will continue to be pursued by the existing authorities until the end of the proceedings. Local governments will also continue to pay childcare benefits granted before January 1, 2022 until the end of the period for which they were granted, i.e. until May 31, 2022 in the period January – May 2022.

From January 1, 2022, ZUS will pay its child benefits on an ongoing basis, and from February 1, 2022, it will accept applications for subsequent periods, starting from June 1, 2022.

The family ministry estimates that thanks to the planned changes, the costs will decrease and will result in savings for the state budget at the level of approx. PLN 3.1 billion over 10 years.

Previously, similar changes were made in the “Dobry start” program, i.e. in the so-called school layette. Already this year, the benefit is serviced by the Social Insurance Institution, and applications are submitted online.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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