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Assets check required for govt welfare

By Chen Xin (China Daily)

08:23, February 07, 2012

BEIJING - A new regulation will deny welfare subsidies to residents who own assets that require a certain level of income to buy, such as vehicles or real estate.

Under the new rules, which will take effect in June, civil affairs authorities will not only test applicants' family incomes but also factor in the value of their assets to see if they are eligible to receive benefits.

Currently, in an urban Beijing household where each family member's average monthly income is less than 520 yuan ($82), the minimum income standard set by the government for urban households, each member can get a subsidy to make up the difference between the individual's income and the standard. The threshold for rural households is 380 yuan.

In verifying eligibility, authorities will consider an applicant household's income, bank accounts, pension, stocks, securities, unemployment insurance and lottery proceeds.

The regulation limits the amount of assets that can be held by each family member of an applicant household to around 12,500 yuan ($2,000). Rural households are allowed 9,120 yuan in assets per person.

The city's minimum living subsidy covers around 200,000 residents, according to the Beijing News.

Households that have more than one private real estate property or public rental house are not eligible to apply for welfare. Families who own vehicles, such as cars or motorbikes, are also barred from receiving aid, according to the new rules.

Some have doubts about the use of motorcycles in the criteria. Lu Xuejing, a social security expert at the Capital University of Economics and Business, said motorbikes are quite common, especially for residents who live in a place where roads are uneven.

"Motorbikes are necessary for many people in mountainous regions, so it's questionable to list them as a thing to gauge a family's poverty," she said.

In response to a possible public outcry over the inclusion of motorbikes into the qualification criteria, Qi Yu, an officer with the Beijing bureau of civil affairs' social relief department, said in suburban and rural areas, a family can be regarded as rich if they own a motorbike.

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