Israeli Welfare Minister: Billions Required to Lower Poverty to OECD Levels
Israel needs to allocate NIS 70 billion ($18 billion) to lower poverty in the country to average OECD levels, Welfare and Social Services Minister Haim Katz said on Wednesday.
His comments, reported by Israel Radio, came shortly after Prof. Shlomo Mor Yosef, head of the National Insurance Institute, released the report to the public.
According to the report, some 1.7 million Israelis, or roughly 22 percent of the population, are living under the poverty line. Israel is second only to Mexico in its poverty levels in the list of countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The number of families living in poverty increased .2% to 18.8% according to the report, while poverty among families with two working parents increased by .5%, according to Israel Radio.
By demographics, the ultra-Orthodox and Israeli Arabs represented the highest percentage of families living in poverty, both above 50%.
Katz also noted that an additional NIS 300 ($78) was soon going to be added to the monthly minimum-wage rate, which is set to incrementally reach NIS 5,000 ($1,295) per month by next year.
A stipend for working adults with either no income, or what is considered a low income, was also expected to rise by NIS 180 ($47) per month, said Katz.