A poor man with his bags, Jerusalem (file)
A poor man with his bags, Jerusalem (file) Flash90

The government will allocate NIS 1.7 billion ($550 million) to the war on poverty, despite the cuts in the budget to pay for Operation Protective Edge. The plan was presented Monday by Welfare Minister Meir Cohen and his deputy, Eli Alalouf.

The plan will provide a host of programs and transfer payments designed to lift the incomes of poor families, while encouraging them to work or train for a job. NIS 90 million will be allocated for grants to be given to working families who, despite being employed, are still below the poverty line. An additional NIS 190 million will be available for welfare or similar transfer payments.

In addition, funds will be allocated to pay for public housing costs and job training programs. Schools will receive hundreds of million of shekels for student enrichment programs.

The program will be administered by the Welfare, Health, Housing, Education, Economics, and Finance Ministries, Cohen said. “This is a historic moment,” Cohen said. “Poverty is the government's problem now, and we will deal with it in a forceful and logical manner. After many years, we are finally taking responsibility for this.”

In the past, he said, too many of the solutions were supplied by the private sector, and it was the government that should be taking responsibility for helping the poor, not the middle class, which has worries of its own.