According to a study conducted by research institute Tárki, the rate of those at risk of poverty has significantly decreased in Hungary over the last year, Minister of State for Social Affairs and Inclusion Károly Czibere said at a Budapest conference on Friday.

He said that the study of Tárki has also identified three government initiatives that have brought about the improvement: the rise in public employment, the utility fee cuts and the measures taken to reimburse foreign currency debtors. Mr. Czibere added that the study underpinned the findings of the survey conducted last November by the Central Statistics Office summarizing 2013 and 2014 data.

He stressed that the Government must continue its efforts, as public employment and the utility fee cuts only resulted in minor improvements for some families. The Minister of State emphasised that the primary objective is job creation, followed by public employment but he denied that the Government had planned to cut aid provided for those whose situation remained critical.

Mr. Czibere said that social aid was higher this year than in 2014 and added that the vicious circle of poverty can best be broken through the educational system, kindergartens and schools.

He reminded his audience of a recent Government decision according to which all children attending crèches and kindergarten will receive free meals from September onwards. This will increase Government spending on children’s meals to 70 billion forints (EUR 236 million) in 2016.

The study of Tárki showed that while income disparities significantly rose in 2011 and 2012, there was some improvement in 2013 and 2014. Sociologist Zsuzsa Ferge said at the conference that although Government initiatives have had a positive effect on the development of certain macro processes, the Hungarian society still showed the picture of a deprived society in European comparison.

(Ministry of Human Capacities)