As a result, the relationship between the actual recipients ofbenefits and enterprises (institutions) that provide certain kinds of goods andservices, as well as between economic agents and budgets of different tiersremain unregulated.
There is no single statistical data base on the number ofrecipients of social benefits and payments. A personified register of therecipients of social benefits and payments would allow to avid an unjustifiedduplication of the social advantages provided, as well as to prevent possibleunjustified increases in the number of the users of the respectivebeneficial services by organizations that deliver those in their settlementswith the budgets.
It was just a few years ago that the federalauthorities officially began to employ a mechanism of the suspension of theeffect of some provisions of social laws that were unfunded in the federalbudget for the respective year. The funding of social obligations as per thefederal law is carried out within the limits of funds provided in the federalbudget for the respective year. In the event a federal law or any otherlegislative acts is adopted that provides an introduction of new kinds of thefederal budget expenditure, such a document must contain the provisionsstipulating sources and procedures of funding such a new expenditure of thefederal budget.
One of the major challenges facing thecurrent Russian social benefits and payments system is its lowsocio-economic efficiency. To a significant extent the latter is related to the“categorial” principle of allocation of the support and a poor coordination ofoperation of different agencies providing single kinds of support.
As a rule, the grounds for granting ofbenefits and subsidies considered in Table 1 are laws and various legal andnormative acts adopted between 1994 through 1996 ( the most important of thoseare listed above). It should be noted that those acts adopted within thisperiod bear the imprint of that time ( electoral campaigns) and most often theyhave a clearly populist nature. Despite the fact that the acts undoubtedly havea number of merits, they have a declarative nature. The stipulation of theprinciple of targeted nature of services, i.e. the provision of socialassistance and various kinds of social services, is not sufficientlyclearly defined in the said normative and legal acts, i.e. as a ruleeligibility is not related to the household’s economic state. The said actscontain a great number of provisions for benefits, subsidies, compensationpayments, granting of free or discounted social services, the eligibilityfor which is established for entire categories of the population ( the majorpart of them is listed in the table) rather than individual households in direneed.
Some federal mandates are orientated towardsthe social protection of selected categories: migrants and refugees; militarypersonnel participating/participated in armed conflicts in Russia and CIS;donors; those who suffered from disasters at “Mayak” and Chernobyl;those who live in the Far North or equivalent regions; those who sufferAIDS and medical personnel working with this group of patients; Heroes of theUSSR, RF; those who suffered from repressions, etc.).
There is also a number of normative and legalacts that introduce benefits or grounds for payments in terms ofprofessional ( production) activity. The acts read that social protection isextended to those who work in certain industry branches or services, or civilservants ( such as, for example, rescue workers, personnel of railwaycompanies, judges, bayliffs, residents of the closed administrative andterritorial establishments, personnel of interior agencies, etc.)
It should be noted that the evaluation of theaforementioned acts witnesses that in addition to the traditionalcategories of those in need of social aid, subsidies, benefits andpayments ( disabled, children- orphans, families with many children, singlemothers, aged people, unemployed), some new categories appear, such as militarypersonnel and members of their families; employees of certainindustry branches and services, civil servants, residents of certainterritories.
Naturally, the mere existence and effect ofthe said normative and legal acts does not at all imply that individualsentitled to benefits, pensions, subsidies or payments on different grounds mayreceive all of them at once. Many of such acts provide the possibility ofreceiving social support and/or services on one of the grounds, however, suchnorms do not improve the situation.
The chaos in the adoption and implementationof legal and normative acts in the sphere of social protection and socialservices, the existence and effect of largely overlapping ( and thereforecontradicting one another) norms covering the same categories of recipients (though under different names) lead to the growth and division of the categoriesof those who need social support, confusion in mechanisms of realization of therights set by the social and branch law, complications in terms of provision ofsocial support, and indebtedness in terms of paying pensions, subsidies andcompensations.
The impossibility of implementation of allthe social rights fixed by the law has caused the revision of eligibilitycriteria both at the federal and regional levels.
The social legislation adopted between 1997to 1999 substantially differs from that of the previous period. First, the newsocial laws regulate the former chaos in providing the state social support.Secondly, one notes a gradual transition towards the targeted approach in thisrespect. Thirdly, there are attempts to regulate the implementation ofentitlements, benefits and guarantees that are listed in the acts of theearlier period.
The social laws adopted in 1997-1999 regulatethe eligibility of the state social in a comprehensive way. The evaluation ofthe contents of the said laws indicates that the transition to the targetedprinciple in allocating all kinds of benefits and payments becomes predominant.Thus in compliance with the law “On Amending Article 16 of the Law ‘On State FamilyBenefits’, theentitlement for the monthly children benefit is granted to one of the parents(step-parents, guardians, trustees) in the families “with the average percapita income, the amount of which does not exceed the amount of subsistencelevel set in the RF Subject” ( Art.1). Needless to say, the law “On StateFamily Benefits” has been often criticized on the ground that the eligibilityprovision had been equal for all the families with children. In other words,the benefit was granted to all the parents ( step- parents, guardians,trustees), regardless of their income.
The federal law “On State Social Assistance”is of a substantial importance for the further development andimprovement of the social legislation and provision of the state socialsupport. The objectives and purposes of the provision of thestate social assistance are stipulated clearly and strictly as:”maintenance of living standards of needy families and deprived singlepersons whose average per capita income is below the subsistence minimumvalue,.... targeted nature and rational use of budgetary funds” ( Art.3).Anemphasis is made on the provision that only those needy residents whose averageper capita income is below the subsistence level due to the reasons independent of themmay receive the state social support (Part2, Art.6), while Art. 5also identifies sources for the provision of the state socialsupport. At the same time it is stipulated that “in the event when theresources of the RF Subjects and local budgets prove to be insufficient toextend the state social support, such funds are earmarked to the RF Subjectsand local self- governance bodies from the budget of the superior level of thebudgetary system...” ( Part 2, Art.5).
The Law provides the possibility of carryingout an additional examination ( inspection by a commission) to beconducted by the respective social protection agency in order to check theinformation provided in the application for provision of statesocial support ( p.2 Art.8). The same provision also regulates the term andprocedures of making decisions on the application ( p.3 Art.8). The saidprocedure traditionally is used to examine the need in state support in thesituation in which the majority of families have income not exceedingsubsistence level ( in some regions, the share of such families is as high as70-80%). The subsistence level criterion by itself, of course, does not allow astrict identification of the families, to which the support should be allocatedas a priority.
In 1999, further steps were undertakentowards the transition to the targeted principle of extending social support.According to the legislature’s concept, the basis for the provision of the support to the needyand most deprived residents should be formed using such laws as “On the BasicCost for the Necessary Social Set”, “On Consumer Basket for the RussianFederation”, and RF Government Resolution of 17 February 1999 # 192 “OnApproval of Methodological Recommendations on Identification of theConsumer Basket for the Social and Demographic Groups for the RussianFederation and the Subjects of the Russian Federation”, Resolution of 29September 1999 # 1096 “On approval of the Procedures of Accounting andCalculation of the Average Per Capita Income Value Threshold as an EntitlementCriteria for the Receipt of the Monthly Children Benefit”. Notably, theLaw “On the Basic Costs for the Necessary Social Set” was passed by the StateDuma on December 3, 1997, approved by the Federation Council on the same day,while it was signed and published by President only in February 1999, and itbecame effective as of the date of its official publication. In compliance withthe Law, the basic costs for the necessary social set became Rur. 464 (Art.1).
Hence, the normative and legal acts of therecent period clearly show the emerging trend to a strict regulation of theprovision of social support to those who actually need that ( i.e. theprovision of targeted social support) and, to some extent, therestriction of eligibility rules for certain types of socalassistance.
The normative and legal acts adopted between1997 to 1999 form the basis for identifying persons (not categories) in need ofvarious kinds of social support. In compliance with the acts, the RF Subjectsdevelop and adopt their own acts in the sphere of social protection and socialservices. The federal acts make it possible to calculate normative indicators(standards) of extending social support, procedures of their provision,contents and volume of social services package, volume and amount of differentsocial payments.
In this context, the Law “On the Fundamentalsof Social Servicing of the Population in the Russian Federation” (passed by theState Duma on 15 November 1995) is especially important. The law provides thedefinition of “hardships”, under which it is understood that the personundergoes the situation that objectively breaks his life (disability,disability to self- service due to the age, illness, orphanage, deprivation,unemployment, absence of relatives, conflicts and violence in the family,loneliness, etc.), which the person cannot cope with himself ( Art.3, para 4).With all the defects of the said definition, in combination with otherprovisions (for example, regarding the computation of the average per capitaincome), it allows a strict identification of concrete individuals in need ofsocial support.
Nonetheless, there are serious reasons thatreduce the significance of the legislation adopted between 1997 and 1999 andits effectiveness:
First, the “innate”, “inherited” vices of thesocial law that is still of a clearly paternalist nature. The majority of thelegislation adopted prior to 1997 is “ the socialist legacy” and does not meetthe requirements raised by the current situation and thesociety’sdevelopment. Those are oriented to regulation of a radically differentpublic relationships inherent of the state with the planned, administrativeeconomy rather than of the state with market economy. Those acts chiefly have adeclarative nature, while the majority of their provisions are mere referencesto other legislation- very often- to laws and acts that have not been adoptedyet and, therefore, have no direct effect. All that raises mood of dependencyin the society.
Secondly, the principle of the targetedprovision of social support fixed in this legislation cannot be fullyimplemented, since the realization of an entitlement for social support doesnot depend upon the material state of the client of social service.
Third, the aforementioned chaos and internalcontradiction of the social legislation as a whole: the simultaneous effect ofall the provisions would have introduce chaos in theirimplementation.
Fourth, the transition to the targetedsupport, the identification of individuals whose income is below subsistencelevel is complicated with huge blanks in legislative process on various levels,for there are no actual mechanisms of identification of such individuals, northere is any accurate system of identification of, and control overthe material state of the most deprived persons. As a rule, those individualswho apply for benefits and subsidies have to submit various documents andreferences, while the social protection agency remains unaware of their actualsituation. In the meantime, mechanisms of targeted support and examination ofactual needs are under probation period. The social support pilot projectsprogram focused on introduction of modern, adequate to the level of thecountry’s socio-economic development methods carried out in 1997 to 1998 within the frameworkof the World Bank’sproject in three Russian regions, will be described in more details in nextsection.
To carry out the federal mandates at theregional level, the regional authorities adopt a huge number of laws and actsthat regulate the matters related to social protection and servicing in theregions. The majority of the regional acts on veterans, disabled, children wereadopted for the purpose of fulfilling the federal legislation and the FederalGovernment Resolutions, while, as per the federal law, the respective benefitsand subsidies are funded from the federal budget. The actsregulating the matters of social protection in the regions, as arule, have the common title “On additional measures...” and are subjectto funding from regional budgets.
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