Vulnerable elderly people are set to receive additional money under a new “inflation package” presented by the government on Friday, but critics say the deal could leave low-income families short of a vital subsidy which is set to expire.
Recipients of a benefit for which low-income elderly persons, ældrecheck, will receive an additional 5,000-kroner tax-free cash benefit in 2023 under the terms of the agreement.
Three opposition parties, the Red Green Alliance, the Conservatives and Liberal Alliance, do not back the plan and are not part of the agreement.
The deal secures 2.4 billion kroner of government spending to helping soften the impact of inflation on the Danish public. Some 1.1 billion kroner of that total is set aside for the additional elderly cheque.
“This is a helping hand. Not something that solves all problems but a remedy to help some people through a difficult time. And I’m incredibly pleased that so many parties are involved,” Finance Minister Nicolai Wammen told media on Friday.
The agreement also provides 300 million kroner for low-income families with children. Which families will benefit from the money and how is currently undecided and will be negotiated under the auspices of the Employment Ministry. Those talks will take place after next week’s winter break, Wammen said.
The Red Green Alliance on Thursday left talks over the agreement because it disagreed with the part related to low-income families.
The left-wing party said that it was unhappy that economically vulnerable families currently in receipt of an existing subsidy, known as børnetilskud, were not guaranteed to receive money from the 300-million-kroner fund after March 1st, when the current subsidy expires.
Wammen said on Friday that the spending plan for the 300 million kroner would not be finalised by March 1st.
“It won’t be possible to make a deal so this money can be paid out before March 1st. It will take longer. But the wish is to get the money out as quickly as possible,” he said.
The minister did not say whether families who lose the old subsidy on March 1st would receive the new inflation relief.
“We have a shared responsibility to agree on a deal as soon as possible so that vulnerable young families can see who will be eligible for the money,” he said.
Another opposition party, the Socialist People’s Party (SF) has agreed to vote for the deal but said it was critical of the part providing funding to families.
“Our criticism was and still is that the government has removed the increased subsidy which was necessary for the poorest young families before inflation took effect,” SF finance spokesperson Lisbeth Bech-Nielsen said.
But Bech-Nielsen also praised a part of the agreement that provides an additional 100 million kroner to provide activities and outings for children from vulnerable backgrounds, as well as to by essential items.
The outgoing subsidy, børnetilskud, was introduced in 2019 and is given to low-income families such as those receiving the lowest form of unemployment benefit, kontanthjælp.
A parliamentary majority for extending the subsidy no longer exists following last November’s election. It therefore expires on March 1st.
The subsidy provides between 563 and 717 kroner per child per month, depending on the benefits received by parents.