Rich families try to nab Xmas aid

Charities donating goods to poor Danish families this Christmas say they have rejected thousands of bogus applications from well-off households.

One request came from a couple who had just returned from a honeymoon in the Caribbean, while another came from a family which was found to have a combined monthly income of DKK 60,000 (EUR 8,071).

“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.”

Many of the charities vet the applications with help from local councils to ensure that only those who really need the aid receive it. Although the Christmas chancers aren’t a new phenomenon, Lydholm said that, this year, it has been coupled with lower than usual donations.

One charity, Mødrehjælpen, reported receiving DKK 250,000 (EUR 33,627) less in donations but a 40 percent increase in applications.

“It might well be that the earlier debate in the media about poverty has affected our collection,” Mødrehjælpen CEO, Mads Roke Clausen, told Berlingske. Clausen was referring to a family who were presented as poor to the Danish media earlier this year, but later found to be earning DKK 15,000 (EUR 2,018) a month.

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

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