During the epidemic, the role of families has gained in significance; in the past two months, families have been required to adapt to changed circumstances, the Minister of State for Family and Youth Affairs at the Ministry of Human Capacities stated at the Saturday online press conference of the Operational Group responsible for the containment of the coronavirus epidemic.

Katalin Novák said the government would like everyone to feel that “not a single Hungarian will be left by the wayside; neither when there is a coronavirus epidemic in Hungary, nor when our lives are harder than at ordinary times”.

“For ten years we have been working to turn Hungary into a family-friendly country. We haven’t yet achieved this goal, but we are now closer to it than ever before,” the Minister of State stressed. She added that “family-friendly means that we pay attention to every generation”.

Ms. Novák recalled that during crises, left-wing governments introduced austerity measures, took money away from areas where it was needed the most, cut back on family benefits and did away with the 13th month pension.

By contrast, the incumbent government has decided to gradually reintroduce the 13th month pension from 2021. In 2021, pensioners will receive one week’s extra pension, in 2022 two weeks’ extra pension, in 2023 three weeks’ extra pension and in 2024 Hungarian pensioners will be given back their full 13th month pension. This measure will be more generous than the one that was in place earlier: The range of eligible persons will be extended and there will be no upper limit. Everyone receiving pensions or pension-like allowances will be eligible, and as a result, 150,000 more persons could receive pension supplements, the politician stated.

The term of eligibility for a number of family support benefits – such as the various maternity benefits and the family allowance – has been extended to the end of the state of danger. Additionally, the government has also simplified access to family benefits, Ms. Novák said.

There are some who have lost their jobs, if only on a temporary basis. Thanks to the relief measures introduced, they will continue to be able to avail themselves of the various family support schemes. In the case of those who previously worked on a long-term basis, the term of employment will be supplemented with the duration of the state of danger if they wish to apply for family support such as the family housing loan ‘csok’ or the baby expecting support.

The introduction of the credit debt moratorium, too, has reduced the burdens of families, the Minister of Sate observed.

The Student Loan Plus product worth up to HUF 500,000 – which so far more than 8,000 persons have applied for – will help young people with the continuation of their studies, the politician highlighted.

From 1 July persons on maternity leave will be able to attend free driving and language courses in order to make their skills more competitive and facilitate their future employment, Ms. Novák said, adding that this option will also be available to persons who already have language certificates in another language.

For some parents, child supervision is a major problem. Therefore, the government has decided that child supervision must be made available in creches, nursery schools and elementary schools in every settlement, and in these institutions four or three meals a day, respectively, must be provided for children. Demand for child supervision has increased significantly, around 10 per cent of children are now attending institutions, and the government is working to ensure that these children are received in the creches, nursery schools or elementary schools that they normally attend, the Minister of State said.

The government has authorised the organisation of summer camps for children, and so the organisation and advertising of these camps can now begin. At the same time, a decision will soon be adopted with respect to the rules relating to overnight summer camps, Ms. Novák said.