Ministers okay poverty panel’s recommendations

Increased allotments will improve financial and living standards for 190,000 elderly citizens

An elderly woman. [illustrative] (photo credit: REUTERS)
An elderly woman. [illustrative]
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday voted in favor of increasing allotments for some 190,000 elderly citizens receiving supplemental income and living below the poverty line.
This marks the first realization of the recommendations presented by the Committee to Fight Poverty, headed by Eli Alalouf, and the estimated cost is NIS 340 million – though the committee called for an allocation of NIS 600m. in its report.
“This is a first and important step in strengthening the elderly population living under the poverty line,” said Welfare and Social Services Minister Meir Cohen ahead of the vote. “There are still other important steps we will make in the future to strengthen the elderly in Israel.”
According to the Welfare Ministry the increase will improve the financial and living standards of all 190,000 poor elderly and bring them above the poverty line. The additional allotments will range from NIS 68 per month per person above the age of 80 to NIS 385 on average per couple living under the poverty line.
According to figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics and the National Insurance Institute, there are some 866,000 people over the age of 65 living in Israel, comprising 10.6 percent of the population.
Of these, 237,317 receive income supplements, while for 190,609, 22% of the elderly, their income remained below the poverty line.
“A few months ago I presented an outline for removing the elderly from the cycle of poverty. The director- general of our ministry appeared before the Alalouf Committee and it adopted the principles of the document, of course with the necessary adjustments,” Senior Citizens Minister Uri Orbach wrote on his Facebook page on Saturday night.
Conceding that the decision would not be at the “top of the headlines,” Orbach said this was nevertheless the “biggest social achievement in the budget.”
“Combating poverty is a fight for all of Israeli society and I am happy that we have found a way and the resources necessary to reduce poverty a little, especially among the elderly.
When we talk about crises and disputes we should also remember the successes and welcome collaborations,” he said.
In June, the Committee to Fight Poverty released long-awaited recommendations to combat poverty, totaling an estimated NIS 6 billion to NIS 8b. to implement.
The committee, which was appointed by Cohen, called to reduce the poverty rates by 40% to reach the OECD average of 11% within 10 years.
The only way to accomplish this goal is to adopt and begin implementing all the recommendations within the next three to five years, according to the committee.
The committee was responsible for making recommendations on the actions required by the state to combat poverty in all aspects of life.
Yet despite the report, Cohen announced the government would allocate only NIS 1.7b. – not nearly enough to implement all the required recommendations.