Forum for Combating Poverty says budget plans fall short

Some 1.65 million Israelis, and about a third of all Israeli children, live in poverty, putting it at the bottom of OECD poverty rankings.

August 14, 2016 20:13
1 minute read.
Poverty Israel

A man in Jerusalem searching through the garbage. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

The Forum for the Struggle Against Poverty on Sunday gave Finance Moshe Kahlon flak for failing to follow his own party’s anti-poverty recommendations in his 2017- 2018 budget proposal.

Kahlon picked MK Eli Alalouf to join his Kulanu party after Alalouf authored an authoritative report on how to mend Israel’s festering problem with poverty. The Forum, a campaign of Rabbis for Human Rights, said the draft budget would not invest enough to meet the government’s goal of implementing the Alalouf plan within 10 years.

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“It seems that the budget the State of Israel is allocating to fighting poverty will not be enough at this rate, which is too slow,” the group said in a statement, before urging greater investment to help close the nation’s wide social gaps.

Some 1.65 million Israelis, and about a third of all children, live in poverty, according to the group, putting it at the bottom of OECD poverty rankings.

But the group’s proposals would not come cheap in a budget that is already overstretched.

Kahlon, the group argued, should raise the level of people eligible for income support to those 67 percent above the poverty level, or 85% for families.

That would cost NIS 1.2 billion a year. The current rates can be as low as 43%.

It also said the government should shell out NIS 600 million to establish 210 daycare centers in poor areas, a step that could encourage parents to join the labor force. Another NIS 26m.-NIS 52m. should be set aside for reducing health costs for those with lower incomes.

Finally, the group asked for NIS 200m.-NIS 400m. for social workers, a new formula for differential budgeting in education and welfare based on socioeconomic status, and an increase in the stock of public housing.

Forum for the Struggle Against Poverty was not the only social group to critique Kahlon. Yedid – The Association for Community Empowerment accused the Finance Ministry of “abusing” Holocaust survivors.

The criticism came over rules that would require survivors to go to the bank and fill out forms in order to get certain benefits, information that Yedid said could easily be obtained from the National Insurance Institute without taxing the aging beneficiaries.

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