On Thursday, the Sejm rejected the Senate’s objection to changes in the 500 plus program. The amendment stipulates, inter alia, that the program will be operated by the Social Insurance Institution, and applications may only be submitted electronically.
237 deputies voted against the Senate’s resolution rejecting the bill, 209 were against, and one abstained.
Changes in the 500 plus – decision of the Sejm
Last week, the Senate voted in favor of the rejection of the amendment to the law on state aid in raising children. According to the Senate, there is a concern that the costs of servicing the task delegated to ZUS have been set in a manner that is inadequate to the size of the obligations imposed. In addition, senators were afraid of excluding part of the society from access to the educational benefit due to the assumption that the proceedings regarding the child benefit will be carried out only with the use of digital platforms.
500 plus serviced by ZUS
The amendment stipulates that the service of the 500 plus program will be handled by the Social Insurance Institution and not – as at present – by local governments. Applications for the benefit will be submitted 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 the Family 500 plus program. 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.
500 plus – the cost of operating the program
The costs of servicing the 500 plus service in 2016–2020, i.e. from the beginning of the program, amounted to over PLN 1.6 billion. The family ministry estimates that thanks to the planned changes, these 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.
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