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POLAND: Government approves new pension benefits

The Council of Ministers has approved a new pension benefits programme. The new scheme, dubbed “Mama4+”, foresees pension payments to retired parents of four or more children who have not acquired a minimum state pension. Minister of Family, Labour, and Social Policy Elżbieta Rafalska argued that the programme will be enacted this year, and will be retroactive to cover pensions from January. Approximately PLN 800 million has been earmarked for the pay-outs in the 2019 budget. This programme will affect around 90 thousand retired parents, mostly mothers, across Poland. While it does not have the scale of the flagship 500+ programme, which is used by 2.4 million Polish families, it ties into the ruling PiS party’s wider narrative of supporting pro-family policies and taking care of previously disregarded parts of society.

The problem of elderly women, previously stay-at-home mothers, living in poverty has frequently been highlighted in Poland by social organizations and media outlets. Political analysts argue that if the government manages to introduce a few small albeit targeted support programmes this year, the accumulated reaction of the electorate may be just as positive as in the case of the grand 500+ scheme. In the election campaign season, focusing on a complex proposal for retirees across Poland will be one of the government’s key focuses. Retired persons account for approximately 24% of the country’s population. Election turnout is also higher among the elderly than in the case of young voters and in previous years, PiS has managed to secure the support of this group.