Jun 30, 2020 - Zoltán Kovács

The next phase of Hungary’s extensive family support policy is here

Katalin Novák, state secretary for Family and Youth Affairs, said the Hungarian government wants to support couples who decide to have children so that having children doesn’t put them at a financial disadvantage versus those who have none.

Speaking on Kossuth Radio on Sunday, the state secretary said couples who choose to have children will see an increase in their infant-care benefit, paid during the first six months after birth, starting on July 1, 2021.

Novák said the infant-care benefit, known by its Hungarian acronym CSED, will rise from 70 to 100 percent of the mother’s gross salary, so that new mothers will not have to give up any part of their income; in fact, it will increase.

Illustrating the extent of the new measure, the state secretary said that if someone today has a gross salary of HUF 350,000, their net income would be around HUF 232,750. This sum, according to the current regulations, translates into a CSED benefit of HUF 208,000. “Thanks to the new rules,” Novák said, “this will increase to nearly HUF 300,000 in the second half of next year.”

With this move, the Hungarian government is financially and morally supporting families who want to have children even if it comes at the expense of a well-paying job.

State Secretary Novák said the policy will cost the state budget HUF 14 billion (EUR 39.4 million) every six months and will help some 80,000 families. And since mothers who have at least four children are exempt from personal income tax, a fourth child allows them to keep their gross salary in full, she added.

Meanwhile, the increase of the infant-care benefit comes at a time when the number of marriages in Hungary is at a record high. In the early months of 2020, the number of marriages increased more than 28 percent compared to 2019. Additionally, Katalin Novák said that there hasn’t been a single year in the last 70 years when the number of divorces was this low.

At the same time, according to the latest data published by Hungary’s Central Statistical Office (KSH), births last month were up almost 2 percent compared to the same period last year, slowing down natural population loss by 18 percent. KSH also found that the total number of births in the first five months of 2020, 36,527, is 4.8 percent higher than in the 2019 January-May period.

Regarding the opposition’s criticisms of the government’s family policies, Novák said: “No one is interfering in anyone’s private life choices.” The government wants young people to be able to have as many children as they want whenever they want, she said.

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