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Cyprus

Fundamental changes needed to welfare services

Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou

The problems faced by the welfare services cannot be solved with more staff but by changing the system, Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou told lawmakers on Monday.

“By discussing whether 27 employees would solve the problem we are trying to deal with a huge problem in a piecemeal way,” Emilianidou said. “It is not a matter of a specific department being understaffed, but strategic orientation.”

The issue was discussed by the House Labour Committee following the tragic death of a 40-year-old Romanian woman in Larnaca last month.

The woman, who had a five-year-old son, died in her flat in squalid conditions.

An investigation has been ordered to look into how their living conditions had gone unnoticed and why state assistance was cut in December without further checks.
The woman had been receiving benefits since 2010.

The minister said the current system cannot help people who were on the fringes, adding that the government has already decided that a change was necessary.

The government has decided to introduce a guaranteed minimum income – starting July – and decentralise the social services.

Instructions have also been given for welfare officers to find all the urgent cases in all districts and prioritise them so that assistance was given, the minister said.

The government cannot hire any new employees because of a freeze so instructions have been given to all departments to record any surplus personnel, which will be transferred where necessary.


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