Government slashes refugee benefits to €139 a month

On Tuesday the Cabinet of Ministers supported the amendments for refugee and "alternative status" benefits, slashing refugee benefits from €256 to €139 a month, reported LSM's Latvian-language service.

The Interior Ministry said that the new rules come into force on January 1, 2016.

The benefits for refugees and persons with an alternative status - alternative status is granted for a year and then reviewed - have been set at €139 a month with €97 for any extra family member. The benefit for unaccompanied minors is set at €97 a month.

The benefit cut is explained by funding availability and the projected long-term growth in asylum seeker numbers.

In October the coalition agreed to halve the refugee benefits. In December the Latvian parliament (Saeima) adopted amendments to asylum law, stipulating that the parliament has say over accepting any more refugees.

The Latvian government and the Latvian parliamentary committee on European affairs have supported the plan by the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, for dealing with the migration crisis in Europe under which Latvia would admit from 531 up to 776 asylum seekers.

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