As pledged, the government is finalising its scheme to hand out a “social dividend”, or one-off welfare stipend for poorer taxpayers and a segment of the middle class, and it is awaiting the approval of the details of the plan by Greece’s creditors, who have accepted the move in principle.
The hand-outs are being funded by the country’s excess surplus, which is above and beyond the primary surplus the government had agreed to with creditors.
The total amount to be disbursed represents a huge hike over last year’s “social dividend”.
“The social dividend will be over one billion euros, nearly double that of last year,” Alternate Social Solidarity Minister Theano Fotiou told private Ant1 TV.
“This stipend will not cover only those battered by extreme poverty. We know that the crisis has also hit the middle class,” she said.
The minister said that recipients must meet income and property holdings criteria.
Most citizens who currently receive Social Solidarity Income (KEA stipends) will be eligible for the social dividend.
The ministry intends to disburse the funds before Christmas, and qualified beneficiaries must submit an application.
Fotiou denied press reports that family stipends will be cut, asserting that “it will be doubled as of 2018”.
Asked what the source of funding for the benefits be, Fotiou said, “We have signed and agreed with creditors that this presupposes that funds will be set aside from the budget of each ministry (excluding employee salaries and stipends).
“We have the assurances of the finance ministry team and the intention of the prime minister that these funds will be earmarked for various welfare programmes, including the family stipend and a series of measures to support children [in lower income families],” the minister underlined.
Fotiou also denied rumours of cuts in other social welfare benefits.
“The creditors are not demanding cuts in welfare or handicapped benefits,” she said.
The government intends in the immediate future to place all social solidarity income under the OGA Organisation for Agricultural Insurance (OGA), which will be renamed Organisation for Social Welfare Stipends.
A new board will be appointed and the disbursal to be on the same terms as the social solidarity stipend.
An electronic platform will be constructed to register data on all eligible beneficiaries.