Parliament Adopts New Tighter Rules for Child Allowances and Monthly Social Benefits

April 19 (BTA) - Amending conclusively the Social
Assistance Act on Friday, Parliament set in place new and
righter rules for the payment of child allowances and monthly
benefits to unemployed people. Under the new rules, if a student
 misses five classes a month without a valid excuse, his or her
family will lose their child allowance for a full year.

Proposed by GERB, the amendments caused a controversy when they
were unveiled and some experts said they are too harsh a
punishment and will worsen the situation of children in
low-income families. The Movement for Rights and Freedoms were
against the proposal when it was debated.

Child allowances will also be discontinued if a child in daycare
 or pre-school misses three days of school in a month. 

The previous rule was that for the same number of days away from
 school the student's family only lost the allowances for the

Suspended child allowances will go to the respective daycare or
school and may be used for purchase of teaching aids, clothes
and shoes, if this is what the child needs.

In another change, a one-off allowance that was paid to the
family of a first-grader, will now be paid in two equal
installments, at the beginning of the year and at the beginning
of the second term, to make sure the first-grader stays in
school throughout the year.

From now on, able-bodied unemployed people in active age, who
have registered with a job centre, will be required to do a
certain time of community service or enroll in training or
literacy programmes to qualify for monthly social benefits.

This requirement shall not apply for health reasons and during
the first year after child birth for unemployed women.

The monthly social benefits are also now coupled with a
requirement for the beneficiary to make sure his or her child
attends school regularly (unless a health condition does now
allow it).

The amendments also offer a definition of "mala-fide receipt of
social benefits" as failure to meet or violating the
requirements making sure one qualifies for social benefit, or
spending on a scale which exceed the declared income. RY/LN/  

Source: Sofia