Suspected Abuse of Refugee Accommodation Subsidy Limited To Around 20 Cases
The subsidy is paid to people who accommodate refugees in their homes or in vacant flats for at least 16 consecutive days per month for free or for the price of utility bills. Photo credit: Lou K.
Prague, April 11 (CTK) – Branches of the Czech Labour Office have filed about 20 criminal complaints related to suspected abuse of the so-called “solidarity subsidy” that the state pays to those providing free accommodation to refugees from Ukraine in their homes or vacant flats, said the Labour Ministry’s IT section director Karel Trpkos yesterday.
Trpkos, who is temporarily heading the Labor Office, said no widespread or significant abuse of the subsidy system had been detected. Neither has the number of rejected applications for the subsidy increased significantly because of the checks, he told journalists.
The subsidy is paid to people who accommodate refugees in their homes or in vacant flats for at least 16 consecutive days per month for free or for the price of utility bills.
Trade unions have recently criticised suspected abuse of the digitised subsidy system and insufficient control of the process.
The Hospodarske noviny newspaper reported that the Labour Office had paid out over CZK 600,000 to a group of applicants with a single common account, and that the ministry suspended the payment of these subsidies.
Trpkos said that labour offices stopped the assessment and approval of applications for this subsidy after the information came to light. In early March, a reassessment of applications was launched.
He said it was estimated that payments to fraudulent applicants amounted to a few million crowns.
Trpkos said the checks did not reveal any massive abuse, but rather problems with registration of residence by some refugees at the time, which complicated the payment of the subsidy. He said this concerned up to one-fifth of the applications.
The subsidy is CZK 5,000 per one refugee in a vacant flat, CZK 9,000 for two, CZK 12,000 for three, CZK 14,000 for four, and CZK 15,000 for five or more people accommodated. For those accommodating refugees at home, the subsidy is CZK 3,000 per person per month, up to a maximum of CZK 9,000.
In February, the authorities paid the subsidy to 23,100 households, spending a total of CZK 208.7 million. The average subsidy was CZK 9,032. The state paid out over CZK 2 billion in subsidies from last spring to the end of February. The solidarity subsidy will be paid until the end of June, with new rules to be introduced as of July.