Subsistence Benefit Payouts Still Near Peak
In the last three quarters of 2011, the number of recipients of the subsistence benefit and total payout stayed at peak levels.
According to the Social Affairs Ministry, subsistence benefit applications for an average of 14,000 Estonian residents per month were approved. The total for the first three quarters of 2011 was 990 more than in the same period in 2010.
"Between 2009 and 2010, the number of applications rose sharply, and leveled off last year," said Marek Atonen, an official at the ministry's social welfare department.
The subsistence benefit is a measure of last resort paid out by cities and municipalities where other means of alleviating poverty do not work. The 2011 rate is 76.70 euros per month for the head of household and 61.36 euros per month for each family member.
Atonen said the most recently received data for 2011 indicated applications for the subsistence benefit to local governments were down 2 percent compared to 2010. But he cautioned that the number is kept high by the long-term unemployed.
"[This year, we're] not expecting major changes in the total number of recipients and discbursement," he said.