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Updated format of social assistance: What changed since Jan. 1, 2020

Friday, 10 January 2020, 18:54:10

President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in his Address to the People of the Republic of Kazakhstan “Constructive Public Dialogue – the Basis of Stability and Prosperity of Kazakhstanis” instructed to adjust the mechanism for assigning targeted social assistance. In this regard, the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Population has developed new approaches for providing targeted social assistance. In an interview with PrimeMinister.kz, Deputy Director of the Department for the Development of Social Assistance Policy of the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Population Ayazhan Zhangabylova spoke about measures to improve welfare and increase incomes of citizens.

— What are the main results on the coverage of the population with targeted social assistance in 2019? How many applications have been submitted in total? How many families have received targeted social assistance?

— In the past 2019, 485 thousand families came to us and they were assigned targeted social assistance. This is about 2.5 million people. 1.5 million children live in these families. Including 190 thousand large families. By the end of the year, 315 thousand families with over 1 million children were active recipients.

— The Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Population has developed new mechanisms of targeted social assistance. As we know, the set of measures includes three directions. What has been fundamentally changed, how is this perceived by the population and what is the expected result?

— In accordance with the Address of the Head of State, we have developed amendments to some legislative acts, including on benefits for large families, on state targeted social assistance. In the framework of all these changes, since the current year we have brought large families into a separate category. For them, benefits will already be paid. It will be assigned regardless of income. A large family is four or more children. Targeted social assistance was returned to the classic model. The targeted social assistance in our country is appointed and paid since 2002. It was always on a quarterly basis, to which we returned again this year. The innovation here is a guaranteed social package for children from among the recipients of targeted social assistance.

— The updated format for the providing social assistance has been launched since Jan. 1, 2019. How and to whom will social assistance be assigned? What will change in the conditions?

— Starting new year, all citizens with incomes below 70% of the subsistence level, which is established at the regional level, can apply for targeted social assistance. Today in our country the cost of living is set over 30 thousand tenge, and it is different in different regions. It all depends on food prices, which make up 55% of the total cost of living. This is calculated by the statistical authorities. We use from a living wage of 70%. This is the criterion for providing targeted social assistance. We have changed the mechanisms in terms of conditions. This is a quarterly appeal. In addition, the amount of TSA is calculated as the difference between per capita income and 70% of the subsistence level. The conditions regarding the employment of persons who previously provided care for a child under seven years old were also changed. This threshold has been reduced to three years. This is aligned with the Labor Code, which provides for caring for a child under three years of age. In addition, we strengthened the work of the district commissions, extended the time for conducting surveys from three to seven days, and special criteria were developed that give the district commissions the right to determine the need of the family for the targeted social assistane. Last year, there were over 73 thousand facts when people provided inaccurate information that entailed the unlawful appointment of the targeted social assistance.

— Will the profitability of citizens be taken into account when calculating the assistance? If so, could you tell us about the current grid for today?

— All types of income from labor activity, all types of benefits will be taken into account, with the exception of allowances for children with disabilities, scholarships for students, allowances that were given to mothers of large families, awarded with pendants "Altyn Alka", "Kumis Alka", "Mother Heroine", housing targeted social assistance guaranteed social package. In 2019, by decree of the President, the debt burden of most citizens was reduced, and charitable assistance will not be taken into account. At the moment, the rules have already been adopted, which are put into effect on Jan. 5. Entered into the implementation of all by-laws. People are already turning according to the new order. To determine their right, people in urban and regional areas need to contact the Employment Centers. In the rural district it is necessary to apply to the akim with a statement. It is necessary to fill out the composition of the family, information about income, personal subsidiary plots. An identity card is also required. We have an e-halyk information system that is integrated with more than 20 other information systems. Today it allows you to receive all the information that was indicated in the application for confirmation.

— Is there an online application acceptance system?

— We do not have an online system for accepting applications for targeted social assistance. But we plan to bring the guaranteed social package from 2021 to the social services portal.

— The new mechanisms for providing the assistance will focus on supporting children from low-income families, for whom the guaranteed social package has been introduced since the new year. What is included in the social package, what criteria does it provide?

— The guaranteed social package will be of two types. It depends on the age of the child. For children from one year to 6 years old grocery and household chemical goods are provided. Grocery products include various cereals, mashed potatoes, juices, milk and so on. This is all fortified, recommended by the Ministry of Health, taking into account the deficiency of iron and other minerals that the statistical authorities show us today. Children will receive food packages every month. Household chemicals, which include toothpaste, a brush for a child, washing powder, laundry, soap, will be provided once a quarter. For each child, one package will be provided.

Children from 6 to 18 years old are provided with another package - free meals at school, reduced fare on the city route, provision of school uniforms and school supplies once a year.

Social packages will be provided by local executive bodies. We have already developed the entire regulatory framework. We assume that there will be one single local operator - Social Entrepreneurship Corporation, which will procure from suppliers. The list of suppliers is established by Government Decree. Either contracts will be concluded with suppliers who will deliver these packages targeted, or these will be some points where people can pick them up. This will all be considered and resolved at local levels.

— When low-income families will be able to receive these packages?

— These packages will begin to be received from February 2020, as some procedures are necessary here.

— What is the cost of this guaranteed package?

— A guaranteed package costs more than 4,700 tenge (grocery set) and 1700 tenge per quarter are household goods that are provided for one child.

— Also, the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection proposed withdrawing large families from the number of Targeted social assistance recipients and providing them with support regardless of income. What will be the allowance for large families?

— As of Jan. 1, already 367 thousand families have been assigned benefits. This is all done in an automated manner. People did not need to come and hand over their documents, they wrote only a statement. Today, over 250 thousand families have transferred money to card accounts. On the first working day, 150 thousand families received their payments. In general, in January we have provided almost 17 billion tenge only for the payment of benefits to large families, which are paid without taking into account income, without conventions. This benefit will not now be recognized in their income. We will take them into account in the next quarter.

— That is, large families can also count on the assistance?

— Yes, they can count on the assistance. Any family has the right to receive targeted social assistance if their average per capita income is below 70% of the subsistence level.

— In order to modernize the social service system, improve the quality and accessibility of services, a social services portal was launched on Jan. 1. What functions will be available, what problems will the automated information system solve?

— In our country today there are almost 700 thousand people who have disabilities. An individual rehabilitation program is being developed for them. As part of this, technical means of rehabilitation are provided, which we today have brought to the portal of social services. The portal allows directly with the supplier to choose exactly the means that are necessary for this category of people. This eliminates and minimizes some corruption factors. In addition, the terms are reduced here, because the goods are directly purchased from the supplier. Prior to this, such a procedure was carried out through public procurement, and there may have been some problems in quality, type, form, etc. Today the portal allows you to choose everything yourself. People with disabilities themselves took this innovation positively. Last year, we implemented a pilot project in Aktobe. We introduced two business processes. This is a referral to a medical and social institution and obtaining technical means of rehabilitation. The pilot was successful. Therefore, we can expect that this year persons with disabilities will be able to use the social services portal.

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