Social support promulgated by the President has “perverse and unjust effect”, warns Minister of Labor – Observer

Social support promulgated by the President has “perverse and unjust effect”, warns Minister of Labor – Observer
Social support promulgated by the President has “perverse and unjust effect”, warns Minister of Labor – Observer

The Minister of Labor, Solidarity and Social Security, Ana Mendes Godinho, said this Saturday that the change to social support made by parliament and promulgated by the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, has a “perverse and unfair effect”.

“The amendment that was approved at the parliamentary appreciation point, what it does, essentially, is to change in a way and with a perverse and unfair effect the support system and the protection system within the scope of Social Security”, said Ana Mendes Godinho in press conference on the balance of social support, which took place today at the Ministry of Labor, in Lisbon.

According to the official, the amendment will “index the support to the value of the worker’s billing and not to the relevant income for Social Security”, becoming “completely disconnected from contributions made in the past to Social Security”. “It establishes an equal amount of the benefit for people who have discounted about 70% or for people who have discounted about 20% of the billing they had”, with no changes in the universe of people covered, said the minister.

Ana Mendes Godinho believes that “there has not yet been a perception, and people have not realized exactly what is here on the table”.

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According to the minister, the impact on Social Security accounts when changing the method of accounting for support will be 40.4 million euros. Although they do not substantially expand the universe of beneficiaries, the support may increase the amount received by people monthly by a few hundred euros.

In a practical case presented, a self-employed person with a turnover of 665 euros in 2020, who sells goods and discounted 28 euros, and another only service provider who has discounted 100, will both receive a support of 665 euros. “This is a profound change between the contribution system of the people themselves, and an injustice between the effort we are all making,” he said of the support that could increase the amount received by the self-employed by a few hundred euros.

The minister also highlighted the administrative problems that the implementation of the measure poses, since billing is only known to Finance and not to Social Security.

The diplomas approved by the parliament changed the reference period of the attribution, establishing that, for the purposes of calculating the support, “the average annualized monthly income of the worker in 2019 is considered,” and not the last 12 months, as established. By having the last 12 months as a reference period, many beneficiaries saw the calculation to be made for 2020, the year of the pandemic, in which there has already been a general decrease in economic activity.

The Prime Minister announced on Wednesday that the Government will encourage the successive inspection by the Constitutional Court of the diplomas on social support, within the scope of the covid-19 epidemic, approved by parliament and promulgated by the President of the Republic.

Ana Mendes Godinho said that the Government does not want to harm anyone in the implementation of the change to social support, adjusting the amount to the highest reference billing, be it 2019 or 2020.

“The Government’s intention is to ensure that it can even be higher, so that no one, with this change now approved, will receive less,” said Ana Mendes Godinho at a press conference to present the balance of social support, which took place today at the Ministry of Labor, in Lisbon.

According to the minister, with the legislative change that changes the reference period for calculating support for billing in 2019 instead of the last 12 months (which in 2021 would make the billing year 2020, a year with economic effects of the pandemic) “may change that for one person it will give more and for others it will give less”. Ana Mendes Godinho also said that the average provision of support to self-employed workers in the scope of support meanwhile changed was lower in December 2020 than in February 2021.

Although the new measure does not substantially change the universe of beneficiaries, as the calculation formula changes (moving to billing instead of Social Security contributions), several people may see the benefit improved by a few hundred euros. “With this change, we cannot let anyone who has received more start to receive less,” said the minister.

Asked about the number of beneficiaries of Extraordinary Support for Workers’ Income (AERT) and if the dispute with the President of the Republic does not show a restricted nature of the measure, the minister said that “it was created as a residual measure that would respond to all people that were in a situation of unprotection ”. “AERT was created as an instrument for those who were not being covered by other measures”, as those who saw the end of unemployment and social unemployment benefits, informal workers, or self-employed and managing partners with a break in revenue in 2021, he said .

“With this universe, at this moment, in January and February, we have 202 thousand people covered” by social support, corresponding to 122 million euros, said the minister, referring to the universe that AERT intends to cover, which totals 250 thousand people as provided for in the State Budget.

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