THE VICE-PREMIER of the Madrid regional government has come in for fierce criticism after it emerged that he has been claiming heating benefits meant for ‘vulnerable consumers’.
Enrique Ossorio not only earns a salary of nearly €105,000 for his job as a deputy, but also has financial assets of around €1.8 million, including an apartment valued at some €400,000.
According to information published by online daily infoLibre, Ossorio was granted the subsidy in October of last year. He receives €195.82 for the benefit aimed at vulnerable consumers, compared to the €313.30 due to those in a ‘severely vulnerable’ position.
Ossorio was eligible for the benefit, which is not means tested, because two of his four children – both aged under 26 – are currently studying while under his care. This means that the household is eligible for the handout to cover spiralling energy costs.
The vice-premier hit the headlines last year when he asked reporters rhetorically about the three million poor people who live in Madrid, saying, ‘Hey, well, where are they then?’ as he theatrically looked around.
The leftist Mas Madrid and Podemos parties both called for Ossorio to quit.
But in response to the controversy, Ossorio defended himself on Wednesday while flanked by his boss, regional premier Isabel Diaz Ayuso. ‘I belong to a large family and have four children, and I receive the assistance that exists for this kind of family,’ he said.
Ayuso also defended his actions, claiming that if he had ‘claimed a grant and there was another family waiting who needed it more,’ then the behaviour may not be ethical or moral. ‘But this isn’t the same,’ she argued.
The central government, meanwhile, has committed to changing the system for a means-tested one, to avoid such incidents from occurring in the future.