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Jan 23, 2018 - Zoltán Kovács

Hungary names 2018 the Year of the Family

“Strong families,” said Prime Minister Orbán when dedicating 2018 as the year of the family, “will create a strong, competitive society and economy, a strong and competitive Hungary and Europe.”

It is our “young people,” said the prime minister, speaking at the World Congress of Families in Budapest last fall, “who represent the future of Hungary, who have the courage to go against the flow, who choose family, the community and the nation”.

In practical terms, the Year of the Family means tangible support to families in managing their monthly budgets and that translates into greater confidence among Hungarians to pursue family plans. For example, according to Katalin Novák, state secretary for Family, Youth and International Affairs, marriage itself is seeing a renaissance in Hungary. Between 2002 and 2010, under the Socialist-led government, the number of marriage licenses issued decreased by 23 percent. Between 2010 and 2016, under the Orbán Governments, this number increased by 46 percent. The government’s programs to assist families have played a part in that.

The government, the state secretary said, is paying off one million HUF of every family’s mortgage after every third and subsequent child. Mothers with two children will have half of their student loan debt forgiven, and those with three or more will have all student loan debt erased. Family-friendly taxation rules leave the average family with an additional 5,000 HUF (16 EUR) in its pocket at the end of the month.

The Child Care Fee, known by its acronym as GYED, pays a benefit from the time a child turns six months old until he or she reaches two years. A supplement to GYED was introduced in 2014, increasing the benefit to approximately 193 000 HUF (625 EUR) to encourage work alongside raising children. Beginning this year, female university students or graduates are eligible for an extra year of child support up to the second child’s second birthday. Those enrolled in a Bachelor’s program will be eligible for 96,600 HUF (313 EUR) in support and those enrolled in a Master’s program for 126,350 HUF (410 EUR). This year will see another new program, dubbed “Umbilical Cord”, targeting Hungarians whose children are born abroad.

Youth also figure prominently in the Year of the Family. Programs support their studies, work and plans to start a family. Basic costs – everything from language qualification fees to driving tests to VAT on internet services (now the lowest in Europe) – have been reduced. Youth unemployment in Hungary has fallen to much lower levels relative to other EU countries, and that’s a direct result of offering incentives to employers to hire young people and helping out long-term unemployed youth.

All of that is on top of help like the Family Housing Support Program, launched in 2016, which offered up to 20 million HUF of assistance per family, specifically toward home ownership.

“We want our politics built on families,” Prime Minister Orbán has said. “Make families again the core of European politics. Families and children are really a blessing – not just for the nation, but for the entire European community.”