Starting next month, the Czech government will be ending a solidarity contribution given to households accommodating Ukrainian refugees. This comes from the government’s plan to replace it with “countable accommodation costs” delivered directly to refugees as part of a humanitarian allowance. However, the amount that they will receive is still unclear.
According to the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, they have prepared a proposal for the government, which includes specific amounts of money. However, there are many disagreements surrounding this proposal, with criticisms from the Ministry of Finance, employers, and the Ministry of Regional Development. Despite the complaints, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs did not consider their suggestions.
Under the proposal, the housing costs for refugees will range from 3,000 CZK per month for one refugee to 15,000 CZK for five or more refugees in properties registered in the database of the authorities as intended for refugees. For unregistered properties, the amount is 80% less, ranging from 2,400 to 12,000 CZK.
The proposed amount for accommodation costs, however, does not reflect the actual rental prices, according to the Czech Confederation of Industry. They warned that this would increase the number of people who cannot afford to pay for their accommodations, putting them at risk of homelessness and poverty. They also pointed out that the proposed amount does not take into account the size of the town or city where refugees live. It does not distinguish between those paying high rent in Prague or Brno compared to those living in less expensive areas.
The Union of Cities and Municipalities, the Prague City Hall, and the Ministry of Regional Development have similarly raised objections. They have noted that the proposed amount of 3,000 CZK per person per month is lower than the current amount of 5,000 CZK per month for a single foreigner in a solidarity household.
The ping-pong between ministries continues, with the Ministry of Finance criticizing the proposal for additional spending of 5.52 billion CZK, which the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs will have to find independently. They have requested that the government omit the part of the resolution that requires the Minister of Finance to secure financial resources.
In response, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs refused to remove the resolution, stating that the current budget cannot accommodate the increased expenses. As a result, they proposed that the government’s budgetary reserve should fund the increased costs.
This policy change has been met with criticism from various groups and organizations. With the uncertainty surrounding the amount of support that refugees will receive, it remains to be seen how this will impact their lives and well-being.