Prague - At least 5 to 10 percent of welfare benefits distributed in the Czech Republic have been misused, mainly those for people in material need, and the portion is even higher in the areas with a large number of dormitories for low-income people, Labour Office director Marie Bilkova said today.
The distribution of welfare benefits should be checked by the Labour Office staff, who, however, have failed to cope with the task due to their low number.
The staff will be now reinforced by 600 people, and the labour offices are interested in admitting another 600.
"The estimated 5 to 10 percent [of misused benefits] is the lowest possible. The experience from practice shows...that the figures are actually much higher. The misuse is far more extensive in the areas with many dormitories and vast anonymity," Bilkova said.
This mainly applies to the Usti and Liberec region, both northern Bohemia, and the Moravia-Silesia region in northern Moravia, she said.
"An estimate based on a sample from [the north Moravian town] Karvina showed a 60 percent misuse," Bilkova added.
The private owners of dormitories that accommodate low income people, often Romanies, have been long criticised for unscrupulously sponging on their clients´ welfare benefits.
The number of paid-out benefits and the state welfare spending have been steeply rising.
In December 2011, the offices paid out 135,600 material need benefits worth 460.9 million crowns, this March their number reached 247,600 worth 980 million crowns.
Housing benefits rose from 27,200 worth 77.9 million crowns in December 2011 to 74,800 worth 274.1 million this March.
The Labour Offices have long complained about lacking enough staff to check the welfare distribution appropriately.
The Labour Office previously asked for permission to admit 1200 new staff. The government has now nodded to the admission of 600 new clerks who would check, for example, whether the recipients are still eligible for the benefits they have drawn for a certain period.
The Labour and Social Affairs Ministry expects the measure to save money by unveiling cases of welfare misuse.
The Labour Office checked the situation at the beginning of the year. They found out that on the average, about 25 percent of documents and information its individual branch offices had received from clients did not correspond to the truth.
At some offices, as many as a half of documents were controversial, Bilkova said.
The number of expedient applications for housing benefits has been rising as well, Bilkova said.
The government is to discuss the situation and a possible further reinforcement the Labour Office staff before the end of the year.