New support for vulnerable families may exclude those who do not have access to a bank account
Ombudsman says that exclusion of payments by postal order in the most recent round of measures to respond to inflation is an “access barrier” to those who most need the aid.
The new round of support in response to inflation announced by the Government at the beginning of this year no longer foresees the possibility of the aid being paid by postal order, with the Ombudsman, Maria Lúcia Amaral, warning this Tuesday of the situation of potential beneficiaries without access to a bank account. For example, for having been declared insolvent.
At stake is the new support of 30 euros for vulnerable families and the 15 euros of reinforcement of allowance, as well as income support and interest subsidy, whose regulation points exclusively to payments via bank transfers. In the October support round, the payment of support by post by Social Security was foreseen.
For the Ombudsman, the administration is creating “an access barrier” to aid “precisely in terms of groups that will have been, in the design of the measure, identified as its preferred recipients”.
“Since this is the only form of payment for support, it is feared that it will not reach, for example, natural persons declared insolvent, since one of the effects of the declaration of insolvency is the seizure, for immediate delivery to the insolvency administrator, of all the assets that make up the insolvent estate, which covers not only all the debtor’s assets at the time of the declaration of insolvency, but also the assets and rights that the insolvent acquires while the proceedings are pending”, he explains. Beneficiaries who for various other reasons do not have a bank account may also be left out.
The alert is published in a set of recommendations on the Government’s measures to mitigate the effects of inflation, with a list of cases of exclusion from support that were activated last October, in the previous round, and whose regulation and application are pointed to “lack of of clarity”, “complexity”, “imprecision”, “obscurity” and other shortcomings. Factors that will have frustrated access to support for various types of groups of individuals that the legislator’s initiative would predict would be contemplated.
Of the dozens of cases that reached the Ombudsman’s Office, the situation of pensioners receiving pensions from abroad, but with income declared in Portugal, who saw access to a check for 125 euros for monthly incomes of up to 2,700 euros, stands out. gross euros.
Pensioners receiving pensions from Portugal and residing abroad were also excluded from the supplement equivalent to half-pension. “When the Minister of Finance’s office was asked about the criteria that determined the exclusion of this group of pensioners who, being covered by the public pension system, reside outside the national territory12, no response was received”, says the document published today. .
An exclusion questioned, above all, remembering the intention on the part of the Government in the first hour to present the supplement measure as converging with the extraordinary update of pensions of 2023 – with a cut value, in view of the legal formula at the beginning of the year. A fact that, underlines the Ombudsman’s communication, generated a wrong public perception that was eventually refuted, “running away that the exceptional supplement was part of the pension updating scheme”.
More pensioners were left out of any support with interpretations of the law that the Ombudsman questions. For example, lawyers and solicitors who make contributions to their own social security scheme, that of the Caixa de Previdência dos Advogados e Solicitors, “in a situation comparable to that of self-employed workers who made ISS discounts for the first time during 2022, these latter having, for that reason, received the expected support”, according to the Ombudsman. “A clearer wording of the norm would have, however, avoided these vicissitudes”.
Another situation, for example, involves children born until September last year, “for whom the family allowance had not yet been requested and/or were not yet included in the respective household in the Social Security computer system”, and who for this reason they were excluded from the October support of 50 euros per dependent.
In the report, there are also cases of dependents of households who had income declared in the IRS in 2021 and who were considered for the support of 50 euros, lower, and not for the check of 125 euros, due to an interpretation of the Social Security Institute that the Justice Ombudsman says she has no legal support.
The recommendation to the Government is to adopt “simpler measures, easier to interpret and apply in practice, and with lower operating costs”. Something that continues to not happen, in this phase of emergency measures due to the increase in the cost of living, “despite the recent lessons that the pandemic context has brought us regarding the management of various equally urgent supports”.
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