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Japan: Ministry Likely to Reduce Livelihood Protection Benefits
Source: yomiuri.co.jp
Source Date: Thursday, January 17, 2013
Focus: Institution and HR Management
Country: Japan
Created: Jan 21, 2013

A welfare ministry subpanel called for a review of livelihood protection benefit standards in its report released Wednesday, paving the way for curbing benefits mainly for households of two or more people.

According to the report compiled by a subpanel of the ministry's Social Security Council, the standard livelihood assistance--a part of livelihood protection benefits--will fall by 14 percent for households consisting of parents and two children.

In reviewing the standard, the subpanel took into consideration real consumption for the average low-income household.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry will study a plan to reduce livelihood benefit standards for households of two or more from next fiscal year. The ministry is expected to reach a conclusion shortly.

The subpanel compared livelihood assistance allowance standards paid to various households with the consumption of low-income households earning about 1.2 million yen a year, based on a 2009 national survey of family income and expenditure.

The current livelihood assistance standard for households consisting of parents and two children is about 186,000 yen a month. However, this figure fell by 14.2 percent to about 159,000 yen when reviewed to reflect the real consumption of the average low-income household. The standard for households consisting of parents and one child dropped by 8.5 percent, while that for single-mother households decreased by 5.2 percent.

Meanwhile, the standard for a single-person household aged 60 or older rose 4.5 percent to 77,000 yen from 73,000 yen. Standards for elderly couples also rose 1.6 percent to 108,000 yen from 106,000 yen.

Under the livelihood protection benefit system, assistance standards vary among municipalities depending on commodity prices in their respective areas. Standards in Tokyo's 23 wards, the highest in the country, are 22.5 percent higher than in local areas where the standards are the lowest. According to the report, however, such gaps are shrinking.

A special committee of the council also presented on the day comprehensive measures to deal with the needy, including raising fines for those who illegally received livelihood protection benefits.

The measures also focus on support for the long-term unemployed and others struggling due to low wages to prevent them from needing livelihood protection benefits. They include the establishment of comprehensive consultation counters at local governments and job assistance.
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