Wealthy families try to cash in on Christmas aid

Families with healthy incomes try to claim share of record low Christmas aid donations

Charities distributing Christmas aid to the poor have rejected over a thousand applications from well-off families this year.

According to Berlingske newspaper, one family with a combined income of 60,000 kroner a month sought aid from five different charities, while another couple, who had bought each other expensive engagements rings, applied for charity after returning from their honeymoon in the Caribbean .

“I find it provocative,” Lars Lydholm from the Salvation Army told Berlingske. “They are cheating those who really have problems and distracting from the fact that there really are poor families in Denmark who can’t afford to celebrate Christmas.”

Christmas aid cheats are caught by vetting systems which ensure only those really in need receive help. One charity, Danske Folkehjælp, requires proof from the council that the family is on welfare and has children living at home with them.

While Lydholm added that the phenomenon was not new, charities need to be especially careful in a year which saw very few donations paired with record high applications.

One charity, Mødrehjælpen, witnessed a 40 percent increase in applications but raised 250,000 kroner less money than last year.

“It might well be that the earlier debate in the media about poverty has affected our collection,” Mødrehjælpen CEO, Mads Roke Clausen, told Berlingske.

The debate about poverty in Denmark was started by Özlem Cekic from Socialistiske Folkeparti and Joachim B. Olsen from Liberal Alliance. Cekic, who argued that there was pervasive poverty in Denmark, presented a ‘poor’ family to the media who turned out to be earning 15,000 kroner a month.

To be considered for Christmas aid from Mødrehjælpen, applicants must not have more than 4,000 kroner a month available after their bills are paid.

“It would be unbearable if there were children in Denmark who wouldn’t get a good Christmas because of a debate in which one bad example painted the image that there are no poor families in Denmark,” Clausen said, adding that many families who apply only have about 1,000 kroner a month available after bills.

“Each application [we receive] is a concrete testimony about a family who is under pressure, and faces a Christmas shrouded in worry and deprivation.”