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The main policy goal of social inclusion is to reduce poverty and income inequality.
In 2018, 27,3% of the population in Latvia was at risk of poverty (with income below 409 euro per month) or social exclusion. It was the fifth-highest indicator among the EU Member States.
Poverty and social exclusion are also high among young people. According to the data of the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia, in 2018 16, 4% of young people aged 18-24 were at risk of poverty. 22, 6% of young people aged 18-24 belonged to a group of people with the lowest income (first quintile group).
Inequality of income increases the risk of social exclusion. The risk of poverty is greater among families with one parent, as well as large families with more than 3 children.
The Social Services and Social Assistance Law was adopted in 2002. Social inclusion aims to provide the persons exposed to poverty risks and social exclusion with opportunities, services and resources that allow them to participate in economic, social and cultural life, as well as improve their living standards and welfare. It aims to ensure one’s access to the person’s fundamental rights and a possibility to participate in decision-making processes. This provision applies to all population of Latvia including youth and children.
To support families with children, including young people, a family allowance is granted in Latvia. The family allowance is granted for each child aged 1-20, who studies in general education or vocational training institution and has not entered into marriage (Law on State Social Allowances). The monthly allowance for the first child is 11,38 euro, for the second child – 22,76 euro, for each next child - 50,07 euro.
The Protection of the Rights of the Child Law (Section 10) establishes the rights of a child to decent living conditions:
- a child has the right to living conditions and a caring social environment that ensure his or her full physical and intellectual development. Every child must receive adequate nourishment, clothing and accommodation;
- a child with physical or mental disabilities has the right to everything that is necessary to satisfy his/her special needs;
- a child has the right to a permanent place of residence.
Provision of housing support is one of the autonomous functions of local governments they perform on the basis of the Law on Assistance in Solving Apartment Matters. The law establishes that local governments, first of all, rent out residential spaces to low-income persons, who live with and support at least one under-age child. Local governments rent out social apartments to low-income persons and persons who are orphans or persons without parental care and who are not provided with residential space. Local governments may establish preferential conditions to identify a person or family entitled to rent a social apartment.
According to the Law on Residential Tenancy (section 36.1, paragraph 1), a local government shall provide assistance to a low-income tenant if they live with and take care of at least one under-age child if:
- an event of eviction is due to failure to pay rent and basic services,
- a residential house demolition or capital repairs are planned;
- a house is denationalised or returned to a lawful owner.
If a low-income tenant is evicted due to failure to pay rent and basic services, and if he or she lives with and takes care of at least one under-age child, the execution of the court’s decision regarding eviction from the residential space is suspended until the local government allocates the tenant another residential space appropriate for living.
If a tenant is evicted due to the demolition of the residential house, the renter (owner) of the house has an obligation to allocate the tenant and his or her family members another residential space equivalent to the previous one. Also, the owner of a denationalised house or the lawful owner, to whom a house has been returned, has an obligation to allocate another residential space in the event of capital repairs or the rebuilding of the residential house into a non-dwelling house.
With the help of the Social Integration State Agency (SISA), people with disabilities and expected disabilities may acquire state-funded education in educational institutions (secondary school and college). The main task of the educational programmes is to help people with disabilities to return to society as full-fledged members.