PM wants to slash refugee benefits

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Latvian Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma believes that the social benefit paid to refugees should not exceed €200 a month in contrast to the current €256, the PM told Latvian Television Tuesday.

Straujuma said that the benefit should be slightly above the subsistence minimum, which stands at €138. The benefit for minors should be 30% from that sum.

Some more expenses should be added for accommodation to refugees.

The benefits shouldn't be too small as if they are below the subsistence minimum the recipients have to be supported by local municipalities.

In line with the decision made by EU interior ministers, Latvia has to take in additional 281 asylum seekers on top of the 250 asylum seekers agreed on earlier, and thus, the total number of asylum seekers to be accepted by Latvia so far is 531 .

The Latvian government has adopted a tentative action plan for the admission of  refugees in Latvia, which is expected to require an estimated 16 million euros, a figure that a number of officials have called exaggerated. 

Under the Latvian law, persons without any other means of subsistence are entitled to a monthly  benefit of €256 for the first 12 months after being granted refugee status, and refugees will also get an allowance to learn the Latvian language. 

It has been suggested that the refugee benefit could be lowered and brought to the same level as the guaranteed minimum income benefit or the state social security benefit.

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