The government on Wednesday sent to parliament amendments to the Social Welfare Act to expand the circle of beneficiaries warranting the awarding of the status of caregiver parent or caregiver, to be discussed under fast-track procedure, with the aim of improving the status and rights of those persons.
Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy Minister Marin Piletic said that under the amendments, the circle of beneficiaries warranting the awarding of the status of caregiver parent or caregiver is expanded to include persons with the Grade 4 autistic disorder.
The scope of persons eligible for the status of caregiver parent or caregiver is expanded to include a spouse or common law partner and the life or informal partner of the parent of a child with developmental disorders or disabilities.
The amendments also envisage an increase in allowances for beneficiaries.
They also enable a second income for persons with the status of caregiver parent and that status is extended for them after the death of the child with developmental disorders and the death of the person with disabilities to a maximum 10 months from the date of the death.
The provision under which the state puts a lien on all real estate owned by a recipient of social benefits is removed, and the obligation to pay back benefits arising from the right to the guaranteed minimum allowance, housing accommodation and organised housing accommodation that was imposed on heirs is removed in the case of heirs to a recipient of the guaranteed minimum allowance.
Additional funds to be secured this year for the implementation of the amended law amount to €5.7 million, Piletic said.
Final bill on personal assistance
The government also sent to parliament the Final Bill on Personal Assistance, which for the first time provides a normative framework for personal assistance services, making them a social service that provides assistance to persons with disabilities in activities which they cannot perform on their own due to the type and degree of disability.
The bill also regulates support to students with developmental disorders.
The law is expected to expand the number of recipients of personal assistance from 4,070 to 15,098 as well as increase the number of hours when such services can be used and the price of the service of personal assistance.
Under a proposal by the parliamentary Health and Social Policy Committee, the number of hours of personal assistance for beneficiaries whose parents or some other family member have the status of caregiver will be increased from the proposed 22 hours a month to 88 hours.
The same right is expanded to include beneficiaries who are entirely dependent on the assistance and care of another person, and also entitled to that right are beneficiaries who live in a household in which the spouse or common law partner of the caregiver parent is absent from their place of residence due to work obligations for more than six months a year, and who have the right to 44 hours of personal assistance per month at the most.
The implementation of the amended law will require an additional €82 million this year, and the annual fiscal effect on the state budget is expected to amount to €174 million, the minister said.
Both laws are expected to take effect on 1 July.
PM Andrej Plenkovic said the proposed bills demonstrate once again solidarity with the most vulnerable social groups, primarily persons with disabilities, children with developmental disorders and their parents.