More than 60,000 people considered vulnerable will receive Christmas bonuses amounting to €20m in total, Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou said on Wednesday after the cabinet approved the spending spree for beneficiaries of the Guaranteed Minimum Income (GMI), low-income pensioners and the enclaved.
The €20m to cover the bonus would come from her ministry’s budget, she said.
Emilianidou said the Christmas bonus was not an innovation and should not be seen as electioneering. The Christmas bonus has also been given the previous years to vulnerable groups, she said.
Emilianidou also announced the re-introduction of the annual allowance given to mothers with four or more children over 18, the launch of the European Disability Card, and the preparation of the 2017-2019 National Action Plan for the Prevention and Combating of Violence in the Family.
As regards the Christmas bonus, Emilianidou said that it will be given to some 30,000 households that are beneficiaries of the GMI or of social welfare benefits which will amount to 80 per cent of the monthly allowance they usually receive. It will also be given to around 30,000 low-income pensioners and will be equivalent to the small cheque they receive as an extra allowance.
The bonus will also be given to 346 enclaved and children who attend the Rizokarpaso schools, and to 1,700 people who receive a monthly pension from the Compensation Fund for Patients of the 1974 invasion. These groups will receive the equivalent of their monthly allowance.
“This is to support the most valuable groups of the population and it is according to the government policy,” Emilianidou said.
The government is also re-introducing the annual allowance given to mothers with four or more children who no longer receive children’s allowance or GMI for any of them. The scheme for mothers was interrupted in 2012.
“The benefit is being gradually re-introduced by the government in recognition of the importance the state ought to give to mothers with many children,” she said.
She said she hopes that the amount would be gradually increased over time.
The amount, between €100 and €300 depending on household income, will be first given to low-income pensioners and to beneficiaries of the GMI and at a later stage to mothers with annual income under €32,668.
Emilianidou also announced the introduction of a new scheme, that of the European Disability Card, aiming at facilitating persons with disabilities traveling to another member state. This card will allow them to access certain discounts for culture, leisure, sport, and transport under the same conditions as the nationals with disabilities of that country. So far, the scheme runs in Cyprus, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, Italy, Malta, Slovenia and Romania. Around 20,000 people in Cyprus are eligible for this card.
The minister also announced the preparation of the national action plan for the Prevention and Combating of Violence in the Family, and its main objectives are to monitor the problem of domestic violence, to prevent the phenomenon of violence in the family, to train professionals, effective application of the law, strengthening of protection and support services for victims of violence in the family and the coordination and evaluation of the implementation of the National Action Plan.