The bill was signed into law at a special ceremony at the presidential palace in Warsaw after it had been passed earlier in May by an 82 to 0 vote, with two abstentions, in the Senate, the upper house of the Polish parliament. It had been earlier overwhelmingly approved by the Sejm, the lower house of Poland's parliament.

 

Last month the Polish government decided to expand its flagship child benefit programme to include all families with children under 18, regardless of family income. The prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, told reporters at the time that the “Family 500+” programme, which was launched on 1st April 2016, had opened up new prospects for Polish families and encouraged them to have more children.

 

In a statement in March, Morawiecki had said that the programme, introduced by the Law and Justice government three years ago, was an investment in the nation’s future. Elżbieta Rafalska, the social policy minister, had told reporters then that the “Family 500+” initiative was benefiting more than 3.6 million children nationwide. In mid-April she said that the Polish government’s family support system would cover 6.8 million children after it was expanded in July.

 

It has been the policy of the Law and Justice government, which came to power in October 2015, to seek to ease the burdens of bringing up children by giving families with two or more children a payment of PLN 500 (EUR 116, USD 130) per month per child. Poorer families receive the allowance even if they have just one child.

 

Under new law, the “Family 500+” programme will be expanded to include all single-child families regardless of income. The new rules will come into effect on July 1. Poland currently spends 2.7 percent of its GDP on state benefits for families and children—one of the highest figures in the European Union.