Bulgaria: Social Homes about to Close due to Heating Bills
Centers for work with people at risk are about to close due to unaffordable electricity and gas bills.
The ombudsman Diana Kovacheva warned in a letter to state institutions that more than 24 non-governmental organizations, providers of social services, are seeking assistance because they cannot cover their costs for electricity, natural gas and salaries.
Thus, in practice, the normal functioning of this type of service is threatened and there is a real risk of deteriorating support for thousands of vulnerable people.
Why social services were left out of the decisions to support the affected sectors from high energy prices - the answers are given by Petya Demireva, who manages NGOs and provides services in the municipality of Troyan - Home for the Elderly and Home Social Patronage.
“What has happened since the beginning of this year is that we have been left without a state budget. That is, we have become without the budget delegated from last year.”
“Now, with the increase in energy prices, which is significant, we are buying a megawatt-hour of electricity for BGN 456 per month in December, and in 2020 it was 126 per megawatt-hour...”
“Where we heat with wood, it is a little more affordable.”
“Now we are facing a second problem - since the beginning of the year the new ‘Ordinance on remuneration of employees in social services' is in force, but despite the advantages in it, given that there is no budget update, we could not ensure this payment, there is even a risk that we will be condemned for not complying with the Ordinance.”
“The third problem is the fees for using social services, which have also increased due to all these increases in costs - for heating, food, medicine. Now, from the new year, the fee will be higher,” Demireva explained.
Thus, she said, people will either stay out of their homes or their homes will have to cut back on heating or food costs.
Demireva expects the state to urgently support social services.
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