Nonprofits Warn Social Services Will Cease Due to Austerity Measures

A government consolidation package seriously threatens various social services, warning nonprofit organizations. The proposed changes to co-financing subsidy rules could lead to the reduction or even termination of critical services. The Ministry of Finance suggests raising co-financing for projects to five percent in less developed areas, ten percent in better-developed regions, and a staggering fifty percent in Prague.

Nonprofit organizations are sounding the alarm, expressing concerns about the disastrous consequences for Prague. Iva Kuchyňková from the Initiative for Housing stated that any co-financing would force them to forgo seeking subsidies due to the lack of funds. Jakub Dutka from Naděje, an organization aiding people experiencing homelessness, echoed the sentiment, emphasizing the potential consequences for debt counseling and family support services.

The Ministry of Labor has also voiced opposition during the consultation process, warning that nonprofits may stop submitting projects altogether. This would lead to state-funded alternatives, paradoxically incurring higher costs for the budget. Jakub Augusta, a Ministry spokesperson, disagreed with the proposed changes.

Nonprofits argue that the funding cuts would affect vulnerable families and social services. Jakub Sobotka from Fokus Praha, assisting those with mental illnesses, pointed out that employee training for families with affected children would be at risk.

Despite concerns raised in the consultation process, the Ministry has disregarded them in light of the government’s strategy. Finance Minister Zbyněk Stanjura sees an opportunity to maintain the planned budget deficit and considers the increased co-financing a crucial aspect of cost-saving measures.

Nonprofit organizations fear these cuts may jeopardize their European Social Fund access. They are demanding the return of EUR 270 million (approximately CZK 6.415 billion) from the Cohesion Fund, which was redirected towards infrastructure projects under the previous government.

The potential consequences of these austerity measures are grave, and nonprofit organizations continue to advocate for reconsidering the proposed changes to protect the most vulnerable members of society.