– Romanians stop paying benefits to anyone who owns gold jewellery (Daily Mail, Feb. 2, 2012):
Romanian officials have denied targeting gypsies under tough new laws introduced to cut back on the amount of benefits paid – by refusing to pay benefits to anyone who owns gold jewellery.
Under the regulations introduced by the Department for Work and Pensions, any person claiming any sort of social benefit will be excluded if they declare that they own jewellery, or have more than 100 grams of precious metal, works of art, porcelain or crystal objects, fur coats or designer products.
But officials are relying on people to volunteer the information about what they have at home meaning few are being excluded for their art collections – but in contrast gypsies who turn up with their traditional gold jewellery are being turned down.
Gypsy groups say the law is discriminatory as the gold jewellery is often handed down through the generations and is also a cultural and status symbol that they would not sell, it should be worn with pride and not hidden away.
The tough new laws also ban anyone who wants benefits from getting a payment if they are not a registered taxpayer, again ruling out many gypsies who are discriminated against in the job market and are often forced to earn income from illegal casual jobs or begging – neither of which is taxable.
Recent data showed that 7,994,000 people received benefits direct from central government and many others received additional benefits from the local councils.
That compares with a figure of 5.2 million active employees in Romania, out of a 19.5 million population.