Hungarian Government Launches New National Consultation on Family Subsidies
The Hungarian government has launched a national consultation to gauge Hungarians’ views on family policy. Questionnaires will be sent by post in the coming days to some eight million households and an online version will soon be made available as well, according to Katalin Novák, Minister of State for Family, Youth and International Affairs.
In the questionnaire the government lists measures it has taken since coming to power in 2010 to introduce tax preferences and raise subsidies for families with children. The government enthusiastically invites recipients to fill out the form: “Now we have the opportunity to support Hungarian families with further measures. Let’s decide on the future together!”
The government says it believes that increased support for families raising children and incentives for having children are necessary to manage the “significant problem” of population decrease in Hungary as well as in all of Europe, contrasting its aims with those of “bureaucrats in Brussels” who “want to introduce a permanent mechanism for immigration” to deal with the issue. It asks Hungarians if they agree that “depopulation must be remedied not with immigration, but with the stronger support of families.” It also asks whether “new family support programs should continue to be conditional on working” and whether families who “commit to having more children should be given more support.” The last question on the questionnaire is whether Hungarians agree that approving changes to legislation on support for families should require a two-thirds majority in parliament.
These are the questions of the national consultation, each accompanied by a paragraph, which reflect what the government considers most important:
Do you agree that the population decrease must be tackled not by immigration, but by more support for families?
Do you agree that new family support programs should be conditional on working?
Do you agree that young couples should be given support for self-initiation?
Do you agree that more support should be given to families with more children?
Do you agree that mothers with at least three children should be given special support?
Do you support that the institution of full-time motherhood should be recognized by the government?
Do you agree that the government should support the employment of women raising children?
Do you agree that family members who care for ill children at home should receive more support?
Do you agree that the Hungarian state must protect the intellectual, spiritual and physical development of children?
Do you agree with the principle that a child has the right to a mother and father?
Do you agree that the budget support for families with children should receive two-thirds protection?
Hungary’s government has held a number of national consultations over the years seeking feedback from citizens on important policy issues including the new Fundamental Law, economic issues, social security, conditions affecting pensioners and the so-called “Stop Brussels” and “Stop Soros” consultations regarding immigration. The current consultation is complemented by a media campaign, radio and television spots and billboard advertisements. The total cost of the campaign is dependent on the number of people who fill out the forms. The deadline for completing the surveys will be 21 December.
The government will hold a “national consultation” public survey on the topic of family benefits. Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office Gergely Gulyás stated that Hungary spends 5 percent of its GDP on family support schemes—the highest proportion in Europe. This has resulted in the fertility rate rising from 1.23 to 1.5. Though an improvement, it remains far from the government’s ultimate goal of achieving the natural replacement rate. Further measures aimed at helping couples have children are expected to be introduced in the coming months.
State Secretary Csaba Dömötör shared that the survey questions would concern support for young couples, incentives for having children and employment issues for women with children and that the answers might serve as a basis for future family-related measures.