The Committee for the Fight Against Poverty estimated that implementing its recommendations to battle nationwide poverty would cost some NIS 6 billion to NIS 8b., a committee representative confirmed.
The general plenum of the committee, which was set up by Welfare and Social Services Minister Meir Cohen and is headed by Eli Alalouf, convened on Wednesday for a closed-door meeting to discuss its recommendations, which are set to be released on June 16.
According to the annual poverty report released in December by the National Insurance Institute and the Central Bureau of Statistics, in 2012 there were 1,754,700 people, including 439,500 families and 817,200 children, living below the poverty line – some 23.5 percent of the population.
To date, the government has not allocated any funds to address the phenomenon of poverty in on a national scale.
According to the report, the expected recommendations are to include allocating increased grants to working people to supplement their income to reach the poverty line.
In the past decade, there has been a troublesome trend of working families – with one family member or more working – unable to earn enough income to live above the poverty line. In 1999, 7% of working families were below the poverty line, compared to 13.7% of working families in 2012.
The recommendations call for the establishment of a family-support system, which is set to include services such as employment training and day-care centers, encouraging mothers to enter the workforce.
With regards to housing – a central issue in the fight against poverty – the committee is expected to recommend increased public housing and assistance in paying rent.
The committee is also expected to recommend providing additional funds for social services, so that social workers will only treat between 50 to 60 families, as opposed to carrying caseloads of 100 or more families, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
In addition, the committee is to call for the implementation of a plan to train social workers to treat families and children living in poverty, estimated to cost NIS 200 million to NIS 400m.
Whether the government will allocate the necessary funds to implement the committee’s recommendations remains to be seen, as opposition to such a sum by the Bank of Israel and Finance Ministry is expected.
The Committee for the Fight Against Poverty was tasked by the Welfare and Social Services Ministry to formulate a plan to reduce the number of people living in poverty and to reduce the depth of poverty.
The committee is responsible for making recommendations on the actions required by the state to combat poverty in all aspects of life.
The general plenum is comprised of 50 representatives from academia, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and representatives of government ministries and municipalities.
Five subcommittees were established to deal with economy and employment, family and community, housing, education and health; as well as a team dedicated to public complaints and information gathering.