Polish families get EUR 31 bln in child benefits since 2016 - minister

Tomasz Gzell/PAP

Polish families have received PLN 144 billion (EUR 31.1 billion) in monthly benefits since the start of the government's Family 500 Plus child support programme, the family minister has told PAP.

Launched in April 2016, the government's Family 500 Plus programme offers PLN 500 (EUR 108) monthly per every child under 18 in a family. Some 6.6 million children benefit from the programme.

Marlena Malag told PAP that thanks to the programme, "a new child in a family is no longer the main reason of family impoverishment."

Malag also said the scheme "is the biggest social programme, on an unprecedented scale, that has changed the lives of many Polish families and in many cases restored their dignity."

She said the programme was "an investment in the future" and had "a very serious impact on economic growth... especially during the epidemic."

Malag also pointed out that the poverty indicator had fallen from 6.5 percent in 2015 to 4.2 percent in 2019.

The minister calculated that a family can receive up to PLN 108,000 (EUR 23,300) per child from birth to the age of 18.

However, Malag admitted that 500 Plus had failed to achieve one of its main goals which was an increase in the total fertility rate. But, she said, the rate would have been even lower without it.

She argued the decision on whether or not to have a child was influenced by a number of factors and said that Poland's current fertility rates were among the highest in the last two decades.

Malag also said that the government was not planning "any negative changes" to the programme despite the coronavirus crisis straining the budget.