Main opposition Akel’s social policy ahead of parliamentary elections on May 30 was outlined by leader Andros Kyprianou at a press conference on Monday.
Akel’s suggestions spanned policies affecting families, the property market, the elderly and disabled and welfare services as a whole.
Cyprus lacks a proper welfare state, which in turn reflects the current government’s lack of a comprehensive social policy, Kyprianou said.
First, he pointed towards the need to adapt to the changing needs of families and single parents, such as the need for paid maternity or paternity leave and more funding to local communities for the formation of a better support network for the care of children and the elderly.
A second issue Kyprianou identified was the inaccessibility of the property market, suggesting the formation of a housing policy body that will regulate rent and mortgages for different population groups and implement a rent subsidy plan according to socio-economic criteria.
Suggestions also included tax relief for young homeowners and incentives for landlords renting to students, as well as a reworking of student rent subsidy criteria.
Akel also pointed towards the need to ensure adequate and respectable pensions and a dignified retirement for all by scrapping the 12 per cent penalty for those retiring at 63 and improving regulations for retirement homes.
In addition, Kyprianou emphasised the need to consult with disabled groups in order to better cater to their needs and ensure that government policies do not violate the UN declaration of human rights.
Lastly, Akel’s plan to modernise the welfare system includes the decentralisation of social policy from central to local governments. This will allow the implementation of community-based social services that will extend to schools, healthcare, mental health care, the army and prisons.
“It is time for workers and vulnerable groups to benefit from policies that protect and support them,” Kyprianou said.