Last night, the Knesset plenum gave second and third readings to the bill to raise welfare payments for the disabled. 84 Knesset members voted in favor of the bill, and none against. None of the amendments proposed to the bill were passed.
The new legislation brings to an end long months of discussions, but the disabled organizations say they will continue to fight for a further rise in their entitlements.
The disabled campaign headquarters stated yesterday, "With the passing of this law, the disabled campaign committee sees itself as freed from all its commitments, and it will set out to achieve improvements in the level of welfare payments, without compromise this time. We have decided to give the law a new name: 'The Law for Encouraging Renewal of the Struggle'."
The total rise in welfare payments approved last night is NIS 100 million higher than was agreed by the disabled representatives with the Ministry of Finance in September, but the allowance itself is lower, because the number of people who will be entitled to it is larger.
The first stage in the rise in welfare payments will be on March 1. The total cost of that stage will be NIS 2.24 billion annually. The allowance will be linked to the average wage from 2022, and not from this year as agreed in September.
The basic disabled allowance will rise by between NIS 470 and NIS 770 per person per month, reaching NIS 3,270 at the first stage. The incapacitation allowance will rise by an additional NIS 452, bringing the total monthly allowance to NIS 3,700 after the final stage in 2022. This part of the disabled allowance has in effect become part of the general allowance, and the gradations in it have been cancelled.
The monthly salary level from which the allowance starts to be reduced will rise from NIS 2,800 to NIS 3,700.
Minister of Welfare and Social Services Haim Katz said, "The goal was and remains an allowance at the level of the minimum wage, and the government bill passed today is a first and substantial step in that direction. In a historic step, we have abolished the gradations in the extra incapacitation allowance, we have put an end to the cumbersomeness, and consolidated the basic allowance and the monthly supplement. A uniform supplement at the highest level will assist 125,000 of the economically weakest, such as those with mental disabilities and autism. After the allowance was not updated for sixteen years, we can certainly call this a historic day.
"I hope we can swiftly reach agreement with the Ministry of Finance and promote a bill for raising allowances for all senior citizens who receive income supplement, linking it to the average wage, which will ensure that no senior citizen will again be below the poverty line."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on February 13, 2018
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