The welfare system is too opaque and administratively complex. As a result of expensive energy and media coverage, people have a better idea about housing benefits but not, for example, material hardship benefits.
This was revealed in a survey among representatives of the non-profit sector and academic institutions conducted by the Centre for Economic and Market Analysis (CETA) for the Invisible Project, which maps socially excluded groups.
“A faster process of granting benefits, digitization of the system, and clearer eligibility criteria could help make the social system more efficient,” said Filip Blaha from CETA. He also said staff at labor offices should be strengthened, and communication between offices should be improved.
Radka Hamáčková from Diakonie ČCE Vrchlabí, which helps families with children, described her bad experience with the system. “When they apply for benefits, they go to one floor of the office, where they fill out twenty papers, then they go to the next floor and fill out the same. It’s demotivating for them,” she said.
People don’t know what they are entitled to
Experts say people experiencing a difficult life situation have limited perception and focus on only part of what is happening around them. Therefore, it is necessary to increase the claimants’ awareness significantly.
“People do not even know what they can apply for. Social workers, collaborating with a nurse practitioner, could assist the elderly. This used to be common. Older people often cannot come to the contact point in person for health reasons. In addition, they do not believe in comprehensive support either,” said the survey’s authors.
According to the experts, the problems are often not on the side of overburdened officials. The digitization of the administration of the social system and the interconnection of both health and social services would help to simplify the whole system significantly.
“Digitization does not mean putting a computer in the hands of officials. It consists of replacing part of human work with technology and freeing up officials’ hands to work with the needy,” noted Aleš Rod from CETA. Among other things, applicants would not have to fill in information the state already has about them repeatedly, and officials would not have to process the forms.