During a special meeting on Tuesday of the Labor, Welfare and Health Committee to mark World Social Work Day, social workers painted a gloomy picture of the situation on the ground. ”We are constantly `schnorring` and `begging for alms` for those we are treating, so we have no time left for actual treatment,” said social worker Miryam Simchi Hagdi.
Anat Horev, director of the Elderly Population Department in the Givatayim Municipality, told the committee that social workers are forced to deny ”very basic requests” of elderly people and Holocaust survivors ”because we do not have the budget for it.”
Deputy Labor Committee Chairman MK Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid) mentioned that 85 percent of social workers are in need of daily assistance from NGOs and donors in order to be able to treat people. MK Michal Biran (Zionist Camp) said, ”It`s like sending soldiers to battle without shoes or food. The system relies on the good will and the ethos of the social workers, but a system cannot operate on courtesies.”
Labor Committee Chairman MK Elie Elalouf (Archive photo: Itzik Harari)
Addressing the numerous social workers who attended the meeting, Committee Chairman MK Elie Elalouf (Kulanu) said: ”You are dedicated soldiers in the war on poverty.”
MK Cohen warned that ”soon the day will come when the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services will become irrelevant because it has privatized itself senseless, and philanthropists are doing the work just as efficiently.”
Michal Delin Frimerman of Latet (”To Give”) said more than 80 percent of those who turn to the non-profit organization present a referral from municipal welfare departments, which do not have the budget to help those who are in need of assistance.
Yael Agmon of the Finance Ministry`s Budget Department said in response that the budget of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services has gone up 20 percent this year, ”much more than the natural increase rate.” The State`s ”resources cake” is limited, she added.
MK Cohen replied: ”There is no budgetary problem, but there is a major problem of priorities. All those who sit in the Finance Committee and see how billions of shekels are moved from side to side must be extremely frustrated.”
Turning to the social workers, Cohen said, ”Your wage agreement will be opened at the end of the year. Do not accept the 1.5 percent raise you will most likely be offered.”