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Government approves strategy against social exclusion

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Prague, Feb 17 (CTK) – The Czech government approved on Wednesday the Strategy against social exclusion for 2016-2020 that is to enable 6,000 families to move from dormitories or hostels designed for the poor to standard flats in the next five years, Human Rights Minister Jiri Dienstbier has told journalists.

According to the Strategy, no child is to live in such a hostel for more than one month as of 2020.

Dienstbier (Social Democrats, CSSD) said the Strategy outlines seven areas for the state to reduce the phenomenon of social exclusion.

The cabinet asked Dienstbier to draft an action plan in which the Strategy’s goals would be specified.

The number of excluded localities, either houses or neighbourhoods, has been rising in the Czech Republic.

According to an analysis the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry released last year, the number of such localities, inhabited by poor people and often referred to as ghettos, doubled from 300 to 600 in the past decade.

There are ghettos in 297 towns or villages, with a total of 115,000 inhabitants, compared with 80,000 in 2006, the analysis showed.

In the Strategy approved on Wednesday, the government supposes to find standard housing for 6,000 lowest-income families.

A law on social housing is to take effect in the Czech Republic as of January 1, 2017, but is expected to have a six-month delay at least.

Social workers are to start working with the people threatened by the loss of housing. They should help solve the situation and prevent people’s eviction from their flats.

Debts are one of the frequent factors behind people’s housing troubles. A total of 909,000 people faced a distraint at the end of 2014, Dienstbier said.

He said about 400,000 people face more than three distraints. Every such person costs the state 280,000 crowns, he said.

“If we succeeded in returning a mere 10 percent of these people to normal life and onto the labour market, the state would save over ten billion crowns a year,” Dienstbier said.

The Strategy says the annual number of new distraints is to decline. The area of non-banking consumer loan providers is to start being regulated effectively.

A registry of distraints is to be established by 2020, the document says.

The number of children from ghettos who attend kindergartens is to increase, as well as the number of schoolchildren placed in regular schools (instead of special schools for children with slight mental disorders).

The number of adult inhabitants undergoing professional retraining is to increase as well.

The employment rate in these areas, now very low, is to increase by 25 percent, according to the Strategy.

The share of long-unemployed people is to decline.

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