A fourth of applications submitted to the Displaced Persons Care and Rehabilitation Service are rejected, while the criteria for providing housing assistance is outdated and in need of revision, the House refugee committee heard on Tuesday.

The committee discussed a proposal tabled by Disy deputy Marios Mavrides on the relevant law, with the intention of eventually calling on the interior minister for further discussions on general issues concerning welfare plans, regulations and legislation.

Following several complaints from the public, the committee has come to the conclusion that the procedures being followed are so problematic and convoluted that it becomes very difficult for many people to cope,” committee chair Nikos Kettiros told reporters after the session.

He also pointed out that in addition to the 25 per cent of rejected applications, nearly all hierarchical appeals are also rejected, as a result of the “traffic light system” being followed for applications. This means that an application cannot be reviewed and if an appeal is made, it will be rejected.

He also referred to various rejected cases, saying that while applications must be submitted within 12 months, planning or building permits are not issued in the same time.

The state itself is delaying issuing the permits,” he said, “this is not the state we want”.

The committee intends on calling on the interior minister for discussions, he continued, as “We want the income criteria and sponsorship to increase, and to see how we can help people within the constitutional framework and not make it difficult for them”.

Disy deputy Rita Superman said that the housing assistance criteria “clearly need revising” as they are anachronistic and do not meet the needs of newer generations for obtaining housing.

“There is no sense in rejecting applications for exceeding the limit with small amounts of money or for other unacceptable reasons,” she said. “Aid must be given with respect to the children of refugees”.

She also stood behind Mavrides’ proposal, saying it is a step in the right direction, even though it increases the state budget. It should act as a lever of pressure on the state so that a larger group of refugee children benefit from this aid.

Meanwhile, Dipa deputy Michalis Yiakoumis expressed the opinion that the income criterion should not exist, speaking of “territorial and obsolete schemes”.

We need to think hard about what to do with these schemes”, he noted, saying the public is demanding solutions.

“The refugee housing policy is not a social provision. It is the right of the displaced and their children to receive housing assistance from the state,” he said.

“Today a young person’s salary is a disincentive for them to be able to get housing assistance,” he said, adding that this is “unacceptable”.