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      Child Allowance Cuts To Take Effect This Week

      Possibly the most directly-felt economic decree of the Netanyahu economic program will go into effect this Wednesday, when the child-allowance cuts go into effect.
      First Publish: 8/17/2003, 11:11 AM

      Possibly the most directly-felt economic decree of the Netanyahu economic program will go into effect this Wednesday, when the monthly child-allowance payments are decreased between 20 and 25% for large families. Taken together with salary cuts for workers in the public sector and others, as well as other cuts included in the government's economic program, it is feared that 83,000 children will enter the poverty rolls in the near future.

      Families with five children under the age of 18 will feel an abrupt drop of close to 450 shekels a month, 23% of their monthly child allowance, while those with eight children will lose over 1,000 shekels of their monthly income. By the year 2009, 5-children families will be receiving 720 shekels a month - 38% of what they have received until now - and those with 8 children will be receiving 1,152 shekels a month (28%).

      "These allowances are not for luxuries, but for breakfast for the children," Ruti Yehoshua, a mother of six from Jerusalem, told Maariv. She works as a school secretary, and her husband is a clerk in the Etz HaZayit Hotel, but their expenses outpace their income. Another woman in a similar situation said that her husband's municipal salary was recently cut by 450 shekels a month: "It's impossible to live like this. We are trying very hard, and do not want to be parasites, but they're not letting us keep our heads above water. They want us to suffocate... We were late a couple of times in paying the mortgage, and we were told that if we are late once more, they would evict us. The coming months will be a real nightmare."

      Parties such as United Torah Judaism, the National Religious Party, and Shas had said they would protest the cuts - and especially their timing before the holidays and the beginning of the school year. Various spokesmen in each, however, said they knew of nothing planned for this week.

      On the other hand, the National Insurance Institute transferred today the annual sum to help some families pay for their children's schooling. For each child between the ages of 6-11, families with one parent or that face other difficulties will receive 700 shekels - and 1,200 shekels for older children up to the age of 14. Welfare Minister Zevulun Orlev (NRP) said that he would try to have the stipend paid for children up to the age of 18.