BENEFIT REFORMS

Small print shows further rules for safety net payment

Beneficiaries need to show they have been actively seeking work

Further conditions regarding eligibility for a 400-euro monthly payment for the long-term unemployed whose benefits have run out have emerged following Friday’s government announcement that it was extending the payment for an extra six months.

Jobless men and women will have to provide evidence from their local unemployment office that they have been actively seeking work or attending retraining courses, according to the decree approved Friday and published in the Official Gazette (BOE) on Saturday.

The government has agreed to extend the life of the 400-euro monthly payment, which had been due to expire on August 15.

Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría said the measures are to prevent "people without any means of support won't find themselves without state help.

Regular unemployment benefits last a maximum of two years in Spain.

The benefit will be raised to 450 euros for recipients who have two dependents and a spouse also with no source of income.

But those living with a parent or grandparent earning at least 481 euros a month would be excluded from the benefit. The payment is a lifeline to many people, with official data showing that a quarter of the workforce is unemployed, and that 1.74 million households have no member in work.

Some estimates suggest however, that of Spain’s five million unemployed, around 400,000 are collecting benefits and working illegally.

Earlier in the year, the government passed labor reforms to address the problem. From now on, small companies that hire an unemployed person will get half of that person’s jobless benefit as an incentive to hire them legally. The new employee will also be able to keep 25 percent of their dole money, during their first year on the job.

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