The Ministry of Social Affairs announced Tuesday that the Treasury has approved the addition of NIS 198 million shekels to its 2007 budget.
"Over the past year, we managed to persuade those involved with the budget of the real distress facing the Ministry of Social Affairs and all those involved in social welfare services," Moshe Shayon, director-general of the ministry, said in a statement.
According to the ministry's spokesman, Nahum Ido, the additional funds will be distributed among several programs - NIS 28.5m. will go to treat young offenders -those who have committed violent and/or sexual crimes - and drug addicts, and to help the victims of these crimes, NIS 10.5m. will speed up the establishment of group housing for those with physical and mental disabilities, and 18.7m. is earmarked for the treatment of disabled and autistic people within the community.
Also, a temporary fund will be set up to create programs for people in northern communities suffering as a result of the recent war and NIS 3m. will go to programs for children at risk.
The promised increase comes three weeks after the National Insurance Institute published its 2005 poverty report, which reported a rise in the poverty rate to 26.2%, or 1.6m. people, a increase of 1.7 percentage points from 2004.
When the report was released, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert promised to name a new welfare minister, a post he has held since the elections in March, in case United Torah Judaism joined the coalition. Social workers and social policy advocates have been calling on Olmert to appoint a minister.
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