Working families stuck in poverty cycle

Social policy center to present report to MKs, urge them to implement reforms.

poor man poverty 298 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
poor man poverty 298
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A Jerusalem-based social policy research center will call on Knesset members and policy makers to address Israel's growing social and economic gaps when it presents its annual report to the Knesset on Tuesday. The Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel will present the findings of its Israel Social Services 2006 report to a group of permanent and special Knesset committees members and urge them to include the information both in the ongoing budget debate and for long-term government planning. "There have been some changes over the past few years in Israel's social policy," Prof. Yaakov Kopp, the center's director, told The Jerusalem Post in an interview Monday. "But the corrections have not been enough to offset the inequality that continues to develop in all socio-geographic areas." Even though the center presents its recommendations for advancing social policy every year, Kopp said this year was more challenging than in previous years due to this past summer's war in Lebanon. "We were beginning to see a willingness by policy makers to handle the welfare state in Israel and then came the war," Kopp told the Post. In a summary of the annual report, Kopp noted that in a survey carried out by the center immediately following the war, 88 percent of the general population said they believed the social welfare budget needed to be expanded. Seventy six percent said they were against cutbacks of social benefits and expanding the defense budget at the expense of government aid for the needy. Like "Israel: A Social Report," which was published Sunday by the Adva Center, another group working for social equality, the Taub Center's paper also noted the alarming gaps between the country's wealthy and poor. It said that three years of macroeconomic growth in Israel had done little to improve the lot of the country's weakest people. Moreover, the report noted that even though the number of poor families with one working member grew by 10.5% in 2005, "it is clear that a place of work and integration within the workforce does little to rescue families from the cycle of poverty." Kopp said the report's recommendations for improved social services did not only focus on increasing budgets for social services but also encouraged reforming government policy towards health, education and social welfare. The Taub Center is an independent, nonprofit and non-partisan research institute, established to address social policy issues that challenge Israeli society.