The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has upended the lives of children and their families as health systems buckle, borders close, and schools and businesses shutter all around the world. In Hungary, the government is committed to focus on assisting families through building a predictable, dependable, and secure family-support system.
Our goal is to enable employers to keep as many employees as possible, which contributes to the well-being of families. Hungary is following the same crisis management scheme it used after the 2008 global economic crisis. In 2010, the Hungarian government started building a labor-based economy as an answer to the 2008 economic crisis. This model proved to be successful as it significantly reduced unemployment and contributed to economic growth. The government aims to apply the same method for handling the economic crisis caused by COVID-19.
As for the measures taken, the Government takes over part of the wage costs from firms, supports investments for job creation, provides support for hard-hit economic sectors, and provides a USD 6.1 billion worth of preferential, government-backed loans to companies. The economy protection action plan totaling USD 28 billion (19.6% of GDP) ranks as the 5th largest in Europe. Here are some examples related to the well-being of children, elderly people and families.
Family policy measures remain intact
Existing family policy measures stay untouched by recent budget reallocations. All of our current measures, like the family tax benefit, family-housing subsidy, loan diminutions, the baby-expecting subsidy etc. can be claimed the same way as before, during and after the pandemic. The Government is also working on making the application processes even easier. In the case of the “vehicle purchase program for large families”, we have extended the deadline of the entitlement validation to two months after the end of the state of danger (generally 6 months are available after obtaining the entitlement to finalize the purchase of the vehicle), and we are planning on introducing further easing from administrative obligations of family policy measures.
Financial measures for families
• Suspension of repayments on bank loans: capital and interest repayments on loans taken prior to March 17, 2020 are suspended until the end of this year.
• Reductions in social security contributions, tax and administrative relief: in 26 sectors, small businesses receive financial assistance by being exempted from paying the Small Business Tax (KATA).
• From May, employers will pay for the social security contribution during an employee’s unpaid leave ensuring that the employee’s health insurance is maintained.
• From July 1, the social security contribution will decrease from 17.5% to 15.5%.
• Until June 30, 2020, fringe benefits transferred to SZÉP card will be exempt from the payment of social security contribution.
• The limit of the allowable fringe benefit increases.
Child home care fee (GYED) / Child home care allowance (GYES) / Child-raising allowance (GYET)
Various maternity entitlements expiring during the state of danger has been extended to the end date of the state of danger, and will keep mothers in their present status for the duration of the state of danger.
Home-care allowance of children (GYOD)
If the date of the review is due during the state of danger, the review is postponed to after the end of the danger. A parent raising a chronically ill or severely disabled child is entitled to a higher amount of family allowance and GYES until the child is 10 years old.
Support for youngsters
On March 16, a new digital distance (outside the classroom) working procedure was introduced in public education and vocational training institutions due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, based on parental needs, in justified circumstances, the school districts are required to organize the supervision of children and students in small groups on working days.
For university students, the Government has created a one-time 0% interest rate, HUF 500,000 (USD 1540) free-use, interest-free student loan scheme, which they can apply for at the Student Loan Center.
The government exempts young people who only needed a language certificate to graduate from the language exam requirement. 75 000 additional students will be able to receive their diplomas on these terms. People reaching the age of 35 during the danger will be able to benefit from the Government language exam discount until 6 months after the end of the danger.
People reaching the age of 20 during the danger will be able to benefit from the Government Traffic course and exam discount until 6 months after the end of the danger.
Support for elderly people
The Government will reintroduce the 13th month’s pension periodically, in four installments. In February 2021 pensioners will receive an extra week’s pension in addition to the normal amount for January. The amount of 13th month’s pension will gradually rise and by 2024, it will reach the total monthly amount of the pension.
Medicines may be redeemed by a relative, friend, or acquaintance. During the emergency, pharmacies may dispense drugs, even without a prescription and authorization, to those who provide the patient's TAJ (Social Security) Number and provide credible proof of their own personal information.
Previously, the Government has requested people above the age of 70 not to leave their domicile or place of residence. On their request, local governments shall provide supplies to the elderly (in smaller villages they usually know those who are in need, while major cities and districts of the capitol has created a free of charge hotline where the elderly can ask for help). As of March 28, only people over the age of 65 are permitted to shop in food stores, personal hygiene stores, markets and pharmacies between 9.00 a.m. and 12.00 p.m.
Service scheme for victims of domestic violence in the context of COVID-19
The Government has reconsidered the services for victims of domestic violence in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, with some changes, the operation of the whole service scheme is ensured in Hungary. The Crisis Centers and Secret Shelters are open to victims in severe crisis situation as well as the National Crisis Management and Information Telephone Service continues to be available 24/7, free-of-charge. Ambulances dealing with less severe cases of domestic violence have turned to operate online. To reduce the number of personal contacts, ambulances provide support to victims of domestic violence through phone calls, e-mail, via Skype and other online facilities.
The online dissemination of a leaflet for the concerned persons is also planned. The leaflet would help victims in identifying the problems and provide information on the available protection and professional support in the different phases of domestic violence.