Minister proud that Poland's '500 plus' scheme inspired Lithuanian gov't

Tomasz Gzell

"If our 'Family 500 plus' programme inspired the Lithuanian government to introduce similar family benefits, we have cause for satisfaction, even pride," Polish Minister for Family, Labour and Social Policy Elzbieta Rafalska said on Tuesday.

From January, the Lithuanian government has introduced monthly benefit payments for every child to the tune of EUR 30. From Tuesday, it has been possible to apply for the financial support at local offices.

"If our programme has inspired Lithuania to introduce family benefits, we have cause for satisfaction, even pride. I hope Lithuania's ambitious plans work out. I understand that they intend to increase the scale of the assistance," Rafalska said. 

The family minister pointed out that the "Family 500 plus" programme had been observed internationally and that the government had receive a range of distinctions and awards for introducing it. "Every time, even when I don't want to talk about '500 plus,' in all my meetings with ambassadors and ministers, the subject comes up. There are questions about both the programme's effects and about how we introduced it," the minister commented.

In August, the government received, among others, the European Large Families Confederation Award for 'Family 500 plus.' The family minister collected the award at the European Large Families Conference in Riga, Latvia. 

Under the new Lithuanian law, every child under 18 receives EUR 30 a month regardless of its parents' income. If the child is studying, the age increases to 21. Children from families with three or more children and those from families with low incomes receive EUR 58.5. The Lithuanian government has given assurances that the benefit will increase annually to a total of EUR 100 a month in 2020.