Finance Minister Yair Lapid expressed satisfaction Sunday over the impending cut in child benefits. Beginning on August 20, parents will receive 140 shekels per month for each child born after June 1, 2003.
While Lapid initially defended the cut to benefits as a necessary part of cuts aimed at getting the deficit under control, in his comments Sunday he emphasized that his party, Yesh Atid, had always intended to cut child benefits.
“This is a historic process of moving from a benefits culture to a work culture,” he declared.
“We will of course help every needy family, and we’ve allocated hundreds of millions of shekels to guaranteeing food security for children,” he said.
Lapid argued that not only have child payments been proven not to help Israelis escape the cycle of poverty, but that in fact such payments perpetuate poverty.
“There’s only one thing that helps families escape the cycle of poverty, and that’s work,” he argued. “In families where both parents work, poverty drops sharply to under five percent.”
“That’s what parental responsibility means, and that’s what social responsibility means,” he continued. “We’ll do everything to help those who want to work – from work placement programs to financial incentives to low-salary workers – but there is one principle we do not plan to give up on: the Israeli middle class is not supposed to be funding people who could work, but are not working.”
Nearly all responses to Lapid’s remarks by online commenters were negative, with many pointing out that the impending benefits cut will impact single parents and parents who are unsuccessfully seeking work, and not only those who are unemployed by choice.