SEOUL, Korea, Mar 5 (Korea Bizwire) – As a series of suicide cases distressed from hardship of life continues in Korea, the government considers countermeasures to solve those problems, including more thorough investigation of welfare blind spots and improving its welfare systems.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare announced on March 3 that it will investigate various welfare dead-end areas and fill the gap between government policies and the needy people.
With support from local governments’ social welfare agencies and community leaders, the ministry will try to fully grasp the current situation of families whose electricity or water supply was cut off because of overdue payments or those who failed to get the government’s welfare subsidies after applying for them. If the ministry finds any of the families need support, it will link them with emergency aid groups and private-sector support, or help them directly.
Also, for those who failed to get government welfare subsidies, it will review the benefit determination rules and check their accuracy.
According to the ministry, some 1.4 million people in 820,000 families were receiving government welfare subsidies as of 2012 according to the National Basic Living Security Act. However, people close to the poverty line who earn slightly more than the minimum wage level and some fixed assets such as a house are deprived of the chance to get government support.
The ministry will also expand its “Good Neighbors” program that looks for and support welfare alienated families to 60 local governments and improve the “social security information system” by linking local health centers with local governments’ welfare offices. These new arrangements are expected to fill the welfare blind spots by alerting anyone who is not getting the government help.
Currently, government welfare subsidies are awarded to only those who apply for it. If a person doesn’t apply for it for any reason, no matter how needy she is, she is not eligible.
Welfare Minister Moon Hyung-pyo said, “We need to make people understand the government’s welfare benefits more widely. Our welfare system should be renovated so that no needy person should go to sleep with empty stomach.”