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Charge card for essential items such as food and medicine.

20-08-2013
Balearic pensioners living on an income of less than 3'606 euros per year are entitled to a government-sponsored debit card. The card, unveiled yesterday by Balearic leader Francesc Antich, will be charged with 180 euros and can be used to purchase essential items such as food, clothing and medicine. It will be distributed by the Caixa Colonya savings banks and will replace the direct top ups distributed over the past two years. Antich said that the card will have a significant affect on the annual income of those pensioners entitled to the top up and is a demonstration of the local government's priorities. “This card symbolises our aims and initiatives,” which also include, with the co-operation of the social services, increasing home help services for the elderly and the disabled. Minister for Social Welfare, Fernanda Caro, said yesterday that the ministry is “dedicated to improving the living conditions of the less fortunate,” adding that some 11'000 Balearic pensioners forced to live on no more than 270 euros per month will be the first to receive the top up. The debit card is the first of its kind in Spain and Fernanda Caro said that the Balearics have been forced to take the initiative because of the lack of assistance from Central government. The first of the debit cards will be distributed at the start of April, at which point pensioners will be able to apply for the top up during a three-month means-test programme. Caro said that the “basic card's” extra 180 euros per year will help pensioners cover the cost of basic necessities. The Minister also said that, looking ahead to next year, Social Services will be holding talks with the small shop keepers to encourage them to offer pensioners using the cards special discounts in order to make life for the less fortunate better still.

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