Survey: Majority of Israelis oppose budget cut to welfare ministry

International Fellowship of Christians and Jews donates NIS 11 million to underprivileged ahead of holiday.

House in poor part of south Tel Aviv where rocket shrapnel crashed through roof  (photo credit: BEN HARTMAN)
House in poor part of south Tel Aviv where rocket shrapnel crashed through roof
(photo credit: BEN HARTMAN)
A majority of Israelis do not agree that the 2014 budget for the Welfare and Social Services Ministry should be cut, according to a survey released this week.
The survey, conducted by the ministry, was carried out following approval by the cabinet last month to cut 2 percent from all ministry budgets to pay for the cost of Operation Protective Edge.
This decision saw the welfare and social services ministry’s 2014 budget slashed by NIS 62.6 million.
According to the results of the survey this budget cut remains unpopular, as 53% of respondents said the welfare and social services ministry should not trim its 2014 budget.
“This survey proves that despite the fact that we are in security distress, the public very clearly explains the attitude and importance it gives to the welfare budget and the need to address the weaker populations in Israel,” said Welfare and Social Services Minister Meir Cohen on Tuesday.
Cohen addressed the 2015 budget and said, “The defense ministry must understand that the 2014 budget cannot be only security.
There is also the collective and personal responsibility on this ministry to take care of the population, which stood bravely during the military operation and was the guarantee of its success. The tunnels of poverty require treatment no less than the terror tunnels.”
According to the findings, 26% of respondents said the ministry’s budget should be increased, while 68% called on the ministry to raise allowances for the elderly.
An additional 48% called on the government to implement the recommendations of the Committee to Fight Poverty headed by Eli Alalouf, which were released earlier this year in June.
The long-awaited recommendations to combat poverty would cost an estimated NIS 7 billion to implement as the committee, which Cohen appointed, called to reduce the poverty rates by 40% to reach the OECD average of 11% within 10 years.
The committee’s report stated that the only way to accomplish this goal is to adopt, and begin implementing all the recommendations within the next three to five years.
Due to budget constraints, however, Cohen announced last week that the ministry could only allocate NIS 1b.
toward implementing the recommendations.
The survey, conducted on September 4 by the Panels Politics research institute, interviewed 300 respondents aged 18 and above. The margin of error is +/– 5.4%.
In light of the recent budget cuts, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews announced it would donate NIS 11m. to 55,000 needy families ahead of Rosh Hashana.
The IFCJ is to distribute 11,000 food vouchers through these funds to single parent families living in public housing and to new immigrants.
In addition, the Fellowship is to distribute 8,500 clothing and food vouchers to lone soldiers and soldiers from needy families, as well as 8,100 vouchers for clothing for children in orphanages.
An additional 7,500 shopping carts containing essential goods and packages for the holiday are to be distributed to the elderly.
“Ahead of this holiday the worsening situation of the needy continues, and the despair among them is great.
Alongside the harsh cuts of 2013 the Israeli government has promised to provide a new message to the poor populations in Israel but actually did very little,” said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the IFCJ.
“In light of the situation, we will increase our assistance to the underprivileged, thanks to the generous donations of hundreds of thousands of Christian supporters of Israel and Jews around the world who wish to strengthen Israeli society,” he said.