The government has increased its welfare budget for next year by 6.4 percent from this year to 92 trillion won ($76.6 billion).
Its welfare budget amounts to 28.2 percent of total expenditure, taking the largest portion for the second consecutive year. The increase stems from expanded benefits for the elderly in the aging society and efforts to ease economic polarization.
In the joint news conference on next year’s welfare budget by eight ministries at a public welfare center in southern Seoul on Wednesday, Health and Welfare Minister Rim Chai-min vowed to seek the so-called universal welfare policy, which stresses benefit distribution regardless of income level.
It is the first time for the current government to embrace the concept pushed by opposition parties but criticized by the ruling party until recently.
“People should have equal access to state childcare, medical and education services. It is inevitable for the government to pursue universal welfare policy,” Rim said.
Under the welfare budget compiled by the eight ministries, 60,000 additional residents will be designated as recipients of state livelihood support, while 1,800 civil servants will be hired next year to execute the livelihood support program.
Most of the increased budget will be spent on families with 5-year-old children, and they will receive 200,000 won in childcare subsidies every month regardless of income. The government is planning to raise the amount to 300,000 won by 2016.
Employees of daycare centers and kindergartens who work extra hours due to working parents will get 50,000 won in monthly subsidy for helping double income families.
The ministry budget also includes 100,000-200,000 won subsidy for families with disabled children. The subsidy will be given regardless of income.
“We will try to ensure that the poor people in need of the government support will receive proper welfare benefits,” Rim said.