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Welfare for youth gets approved

Seoul’s payments to young unemployed get nod from ministry
Apr 10,2017
The Ministry of Health and Welfare ratified on Friday a controversial welfare program proposed by the Seoul city government in which it will hand out cash allowances to unemployed young adults.

Earlier the ministry had vowed to shut the program down whenever it started.

“The Seoul Metropolitan Government submitted a revised plan to the welfare program that will provide 500,000 won [$439] to each of 5,000 unemployed young adults aged between 19 and 34 per month for six months,” the Welfare Ministry said in a statement on Friday.

“The ministry decided to let the Seoul city government run the program after it made revisions requested by the ministry.”

The program will start running from June, the city government said.

The revisions included clarifying the selection process to ensure that only young adults aged between 19 and 34 from families with incomes lower than 150 percent of the median income are selected; strengthening the monitoring system by mandating recipients submit receipts and evidence that the cash was used for job-searching and training, including tuition for cram schools or fees for various tests for licenses; creating a more specific rubric to measure the success of the program; and excluding recipients of other government funds.

“The ministry had refused to ratify the program last June when these requirements were not met,” the ministry said.

Despite the ministry’s objections, the city government pushed forward with the plan on Aug. 3, 2016, and distributed 500,000 won to 2,831 adults aged between 19 and 29 who had lived in Seoul for more than a year and were working less than 30 hours per week.

The Welfare Ministry shut the program down the next day, calling it “morally unsound” and “illegal” because the ministry had not ratified it.

“Though the program was ended within the month of its start last year, most of the cash allowances handed out at the time were used by young adults to find jobs including for cram school fees and no cash was wasted on unworthy purposes,” the Seoul Metropolitan Government said in its statement on Friday, immediately after the ministry’s press release.

“The cash allowance program is in the interest of this society and the welfare of struggling young adults.”

BY ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]