A PASSERBY stops to console a poor woman in Jerusalem in 2015..
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Socioeconomically weak municipalities spend less per client on social services than stronger localities, according to a report by the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies scheduled to be released on Wednesday.
The study notes that local social-service departments provide services with matched funding. For every shekel invested by the local authority, the Labor and Social Welfare Ministry supplements three shekels, so that 75% of the welfare budget is financed by the ministry and 25% by the local authority.
The High Court of Justice is currently reviewing a petition against this method of financing on the grounds that it is not equitable.
The comprehensive study, conducted by Prof. John Gal, Shavit Madhala and Haim Bleikh, addresses the issue by including an analysis of 253 local authorities – Jewish, Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) and Arab Israeli – across the spectrum of social and economic status.
The data reveal, unsurprisingly, that the socioeconomic ranking of a locality is proportional to the welfare needs of its residents. So the lower the ranking, the greater the percentage of the locality budget must be used to address welfare issues.
Accordingly, welfare expenditure accounts for 11% of the total budget on average for localities in the three lowest socioeconomic clusters, as opposed to 6% of the budget in the three highest socioeconomic clusters.
Despite this, the study revealed that the total per-client expenditure was actually smaller when the locality was weaker.
The study found that while the average per-client expenditure in the socioeconomically strongest municipal authorities stood at NIS 9,095 annually, in Arab Israeli authorities it was NIS 3,387.
Haredi local authorities are exceptions to the rule, despite those localities having low socioeconomic ranking. In those communities, the average per-client expenditure stood at NIS 8,749 per year compared to other Jewish municipalities with NIS 7,318 per-client expenditure.
The reasons for this discrepancy, the study found, was that initial allotments from the ministry creates a gap that disadvantages weaker authorities; the average per-client expenditure is NIS 3,170 for low socioeconomic status authorities, compared to NIS 5,400 for the remaining authorities.
Gaps in the average ministry allocation revealed differences based on demographics, with NIS 2,682 being the average in Arab Israeli localities, NIS 5,483 in Jewish localities, and higher sums in Haredi localities.
The study also found that most of the gaps in per-client budget allocation can be explained by the different care frameworks for the needy. Weaker authorities use fewer out-of-home frameworks, which are the most expensive, to care for the disadvantaged.
In Arab Israeli localities, for example, these frameworks are used less frequently than they are in the Jewish sector. Haredi localities use such frameworks far more frequently than the other localities.
The researchers concluded: “The study’s findings on social service budgeting among Israeli local authorities and its examination of the factors underlying the budgeting system, underscore the need for a reexamination of the existing budgeting system and the adoption of policies that will ensure equal access to care for the needy, regardless of where they live.”