Commissioner’s Initiative to improve position of older citizens in rural areas

Commissioner for the Protection of Equality Brankica Jankovic sent an Initiative to the Ministry of Labor, Veteran and Social Issues for the amendment of the Law on Social Protection, in part related to defined size of land area as a general condition for the realization of right to financial aid for individuals or families.

The aim of this initiative is to protect socially vulnerable rural population living in elderly households.

Because of prescribed size limits of land area, a great number of citizens cannot exercise the right to financial social aid or have difficulties to achieve it.

Commissioner for the Protection of Equality is of an opinion that in addition to increasing of prescribed size of land area, it is necessary to take into account the quality of land, potentials for agricultural and financial exploitation (leasing or selling) in the process of evaluation of someone’s right to social aid.

Main reason for launching of this initiative is the fact that elderly households, which own the land area greater than the prescribed size, are often at the edge of poverty and in need for help.

Commissioner for the Protection of Equality and Red Cross of Serbia conducted a research that revealed that every 10th person in rural areas has no personal income, while only 4% of respondents are beneficiaries of financial social aid. Also, only 2% of total respondents living in rural areas receive financial help from their children or relatives, while less than 1% have income from land renting and that income is minimal. Beside, 70% of elderly in rural areas live in two person households and can’t enjoy benefits that life in multi-generation family can bring to them. Although we are one of the countries with the oldest population, not only in European but in global statistics, the number of older citizens who achieved the right to financial social aid is almost negligible when compared to the total number of users of this right, being around 5%, according to report of Republic Institute for Social Protection, stresses Commissioner for the Protection of Equality.

Commissioner reminds that, by adopting this initiative, Republic of Serbia would fulfill an obligation defined by the Program for Employment Policy and Social Policy Reforms in the process of EU accession, adopted by the Government in May 2016, which defines that, with aim to increase coverage and improve adequacy of financial giving, it is necessary to take measures of relaxing property conditions that are to be taken into consideration when achieving the right to financial social aid, primarily to increase land area maximum, depending on the land quality, especially with elderly households. Having in mind that ongoing amendments of the Law on Social Protection do not foresee this change, the initiative was sent to amend the law in suggested way and allow the improvement of material position of those citizens who are excluded from exercising of this right by implementation of the existing provision and are in situation of social need, concludes Jankovic.

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