'Cutbacks on child allotments will increase poverty'

By
April 3, 2013 03:15

Council for the Child says budget cuts in child allotments will lead to substantial increase in number of children below poverty line.

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Maccabi Netanya and local youth

Kids in picture (370). (photo credit: (Netanya Foundation/courtesy)

Budget cuts in child allotments will lead to a substantial increase in the number of children below the poverty line, the Council for the Child wrote in a statement on Tuesday.

The statement followed rumors about cutbacks in the allotments that spread after Finance Minister Yair Lapid posted a message on Facebook about the need for budget cuts, and a key opposition MK responded.

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In the post, Lapid promised that solving the country’s budgetary problems, though painful at first, would ultimately benefit the middle class. In response, MK Isaac Herzog, chairman of Labor’s Knesset faction, accused the finance minister of over-estimating middle class incomes, adding that Lapid will take away the child allotments, which help balance middle-class incomes.

Dr. Yitzhak Kadman, executive director of the Council for the Child, explained that cutting the allowances, paid monthly to Israeli families by the National Insurance Institute, would also cause “a drastic deterioration in the situation of children already living below the poverty line, and also severely harm children in families where parents work and are underpaid.”

In a letter explaining the purpose of the allowances, Kadman stated that they are “not a free gift, but a minimal expression of consideration” for the cost of raising families.

“There is no country in the Western world where a fine is imposed on raising children,” he wrote. “There is no country in the Western world in which family size is not addressed financially at all income levels.”

Kadman added that child stipends in most Western nations were increasing significantly compared to the level in Israel, even before expected budget cuts.

“It is clear that the higher the parents’ education, especially the mother’s, the more birth rates diminish for all sectors of society,” he wrote as his closing argument. “So maybe instead of reducing child benefits, [the Treasury] should invest more in education.”

Ran Melamed, deputy director of YEDID, an Israeli NGO that promotes social and economic justice, also reacted to the rumors.

“We always forget to look at the big picture,” Melamed wrote in a letter published on Monday evening. “We deal with our daily survival rather than thinking about tomorrow.”

He stressed the importance of “saving for our children” in order to enable them to have a “worthy starting point when they leave home at the age of 18 or 21.”

According to Melamed, 57 percent of Israel’s families claim they are not saving money at all for their children.


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