Constitutional Court: minimum income not in line with Constitution

On Thursday, June 25, the Constitutional Court decided that the current guaranteed minimum income (GMI) level does not comply with the Constitution, Latvian Radio reported on June 25.

The Court concluded that the contested level of GMI, along with other social assistance measures, does not ensure that any person can live in a state compatible with respectable human dignity.

Moreover, the Court was critical of the way in which the level of basic subsistence is calculated. The Constitutional Court stated that the level of GMI was determined not by any methodological justification, but by a political agreement between municipalities and the government in the form of the state budget.

The Court concluded that GMI was not determined on the basis of a method aimed at protecting human dignity, equalizing social inequality and ensuring the sustainable development of the country.

The Court decided that the contested rule would expire on January 1 2021 in order to give the Saeima and the government time to adopt a new legal framework.

The case was filed with the court by the Ombudsman Juris Jansons. He believes the allowance, which is €64 a month, is too small to provide food, housing and other basic needs. In contrast, the Cabinet considers that such a benefit may not be too close to the income received while working.

The guaranteed minimum income is a benefit for deprived persons. Personal income, along with the benefit, must reach minimum income level.

The Ombudsman considers that the allowance is too small to provide food, housing and other basic needs. Moreover, the government has not used any methodology when calculating the amount of the benefit. In the proceedings, the Ombudsman shared an estimate. Food and housing alone would need around €300.

On the other hand, the Cabinet of Ministers' representative, Elīna Celmiņa acknowledged that such a benefit should not be too close to the remuneration of the workers. It would demotivate people to work. And since Latvia is a country with relatively low incomes at European level, the government considers the benefit to be proportionate.

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