Rising basic costs from food to housing, the emergence of an energy crisis, civil dissatisfaction – these are the main problems that have affected the atmosphere for months and not only in the Czech Republic. Series on Život k nezpaje Data from PAQ Research show that Czech household spending on housing shows one of the slowest growth rates. Households are spending an average of 2,200 crowns more on housing compared to autumn 2021. And due to energy prices, this amount is expected to increase further.

Endangered species, more endangered species

While rising housing costs are impacting society as a whole, the biggest problem is the absolute increase in costs for low-income and poor households. This includes both income-poor households with an increase in spending of less than her 2,000 and households of elderly people living alone or single-parent households. All these groups have long been among the most vulnerable segments of society, and no government has been able to find adequate solutions to reduce or completely eliminate their level of vulnerability. Prague, where housing costs are among the highest in the country, is also in big trouble. In addition to energy prices, mortgage costs are also included, with the Czech National Bank raising interest rates as part of its fight against inflation.

The move by the government does not comprehensively solve the housing allowance problem, but it represents an important change.

As part of this support, the government has decided to listen to experts and raise the standards for housing allowances. This is a good way to quickly resolve the current crisis, but a systemic paradigm shift in the political approach to housing will have to wait. But now it’s only a matter of time. Housing loss is a real problem for many social groups, and raising the housing benefit cap can effectively and easily prevent it. I learned from my previous mistakes by completely forgetting the existence of a benefit cap when I promised to reimburse over £1 in housing costs. Normally he can apply for benefits if the cost of housing exceeds 30%, but in Prague he is 35%.

Norms, or financial limits for benefits, depend on the number of households, the size of the municipality in which the household lives, and the nature of the housing. For rental housing, for owner-occupied housing (for example, as far as costs are concerned, of course mortgage costs are not included), for apartments it is calculated differently. The long-term problem has been that the standards are set so rigidly that for many people it’s not worth seeking help. Additionally, only a quarter of her potential applicants fit into the single-person household cap, and even those who could apply were often not worth the bureaucratic and administrative burden. After all, only a small percentage of eligible people actually apply for housing allowance in the Czech Republic. In addition to complex forms, years of “anti-campaigns” played a part in this, and the recipients of social benefits were called parasites. All of this affected people and discouraged them from seeking help, even if they were in temporary social distress.

Therefore, the government decided to raise the standards. From October until the end of the year, a married couple living alone or renting will increase her by 4,500 crowns, and if she is in a private or shared apartment, she will increase by 2,500 crowns. The rent cap is 2,500 crowns for her for households of 3 or more people and 2,000 crowns for her for private or communal apartments. If you live alone in a small town, the overall standard rises by around 68%, and in Prague by 44%. Rent for a large family in the capital is about 25,000 crowns, with the least adjustment of 11%. However, according to many people, this last increase is not enough. Because large families in big cities are one of the groups most vulnerable to crisis.

individual problem

While this move by the government will not comprehensively solve the housing benefit problem (it will require many other measures), it represents an important change. Housing benefits are one of the few “national” instruments that can be used to combat rising housing costs and at least somehow protect households from losing their homes. Despite the lingering housing crisis, the topic has largely disappeared from mainstream politics. Quality of housing is part of the daily life of the majority of Czechs, but politics does not offer systematic solutions. For the most part, public spaces tend to individualize this issue, with cheesy moral slogans along the lines of “so move on.” Of course, this does not contribute to improving the situation.

States have or should have all the tools to solve their housing problems. From property taxes, to supporting local governments or co-construction, to increasing tenant protection from short-term contracts, to fighting poverty and systematic human trafficking. Fight homelessness based on current expertise in the field of social policy. In addition, there are many tips on how to make housing the foundation for quality living again. For example, as described in an OECD document specially prepared for the Czech Republic situation. In one of her texts, Táňa Zabloudilová summarizes some of the variations that other states rely on.

labor authorities under pressure

But there is another shadow lurking in the shadow of the government’s aggressive decisions. It’s an issue on the larger agenda of employment agency employees. This is what we can logically expect with the relaxation of norms. This crisis has hit those behind the counter in a slightly different way. Unfortunately, civil servants and civil servants are often the target of political attacks, and governments are not fully aware of the demanding nature of their jobs and their poor recognition. At the same time, unions have long warned of the danger of the collapse of the Labor Department and the turnover of employees. Additionally, employees are often beneficiaries of social benefits themselves, and it is definitely desirable to address their situation. Salaries for Labor Department employees with several years of experience vary between 22,000 and 25,000. At the same time, female and male employees in these pay grades must have completed at least a high school education with a high school diploma. The steps taken by governments on normative issues are substantial and can help a wide range of people. Of course, in addition to the systematic solution to the housing crisis, she must not forget the people who mediate this help. They are also vulnerable because of the salary evaluation.

The author is the editor of Alarm.

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