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Welfare recipients face up to 5% decrease in living assistance funds: ministry

An estimated 67 percent of households currently receiving public welfare will see a decrease of as much as 5 percent in monetary assistance for food, utilities and other living costs over the next three years, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare announced on Dec. 22.

The breakdown in funds by type of household came with the ministry's report on the restructuring of welfare assistance that is carried out every five years. The amount of livelihood assistance is calculated to balance the consumption costs of low income earners not enrolled in the program, and initially the assistance was slated to drop by up to 13.7 percent. However, the decrease was capped at 5 percent. Over three years starting in October 2018, the aid will be cut in steps, shaving the annual cost covered by the central government in this area by 16 billion yen.

The percentage of welfare-receiving households that will see a drop in assistance is the highest among households without children, at 69 percent. Seventy-eight percent of single-person households receiving welfare will see less support. Forty-three percent of families with children and 38 percent of single-parent households will also be subject to the cuts.

When looking at the monetary aid adjustment for livelihood assistance per household type, some households will face cuts of up to 9,000 yen per month, while others will see up to a 12,000 yen increase. Across regions, there is a strong tendency for aid cuts for those living in urban areas. Couples in their 40s with two children, single-parents in their 40s with two children, singles in their 50s, elderly singles aged 65 and 75, and other urban family units will see as much as a 5 percent decrease in welfare. On the other hand, single-parent families with one child in more rural areas will see a 13.4 percent increase.

In addition, the amount of total welfare assistance shouldered by the central government, including medical and residential costs, will also decrease for the first time in 11 years to an estimated 2.86 trillion yen allocated for the fiscal 2018 budget. This is due in part to changes in the reimbursement system for medical fees that will reduce the amount paid by the central government.

Due to the rise of single elderly people and other factors, the total amount of funds used for welfare costs has risen at least 1 trillion yen over the last 10 years, and is expected to reach approximately 3.8 trillion yen in fiscal 2018. The government plans to cover three-fourths of the cost, while regional municipal governments will handle the remaining one-fourth.

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