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Cyprus

Pensioner Easter allowance a ‘damp squib’

The cabinet has approved an Easter allowance for low-income pensioners, Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou said on Monday.
The Easter bonus this year is €190. It will be made available to all those eligible under the Plan for Supporting Pensioners with Low Income.
Eligible for the means-tested allowance are pensioners whose annual income does not exceed €6500 (single-person households).
Beneficiaries of Guaranteed Minimum Income (GMI) are not eligible for the Easter allowance, Emilianidou said.
In response, the Union of Cypriot Pensioners issued a statement panning the government for “mocking” low-income pensioners.
The union pointed out that the overwhelming majority of pensioners have not been eligible for the Easter allowance since 2013 when the current administration drastically changed the financial eligibility criteria.
The Easter allowance in 2012 was €270, the union recalled.
Eligible for the allowance currently are pensioners on €500 a month (single-person households) or €750 a month (two-person households). The corresponding total annual incomes are designated as €6500 and €9750.
As a result, the pensioners union said, only those persons with income under the poverty line are eligible for the Easter benefit.
“The government’s decision is therefore a damp squib,” it added.
In a follow-up statement, the ministry of labour said that payment of the allowance depends on a household’s total income during the previous year, which in this case would be 2015.
The calculated total income does not include the Easter allowance received by households last year, in a departure from past practices since 2011, the ministry noted.
Eligible for the one-off benefit are persons already classified as low-income pensioners and who meet the financial criteria.
Also eligible are those persons who will be designated as low-income pensioners by April 23 this year, provided they have filled out and submitted an application and meet the financial criteria.
This year’s allowance will first be paid out to existing beneficiaries during the Easter holidays, the ministry said.
Pensioners whose income changed in 2015 compared to 2014 should submit the necessary paperwork.
For more information, or to submit applications and supporting documentation, the following contacts are provided: telephone numbers 22804000, 22804026, and fax number 22668049.
One of the conditions for Easter benefit is that the annual income of a household must be below the poverty line. The poverty line amount is established by law and is adjusted every year.

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