On the first day of this year, a new social law came into effect in Russia – the Federal Law of the Russian Federation N 442-FZ of December 28, 2013 On the Foundations of Providing Social Services to Citizens in the Russian Federation. This law introduces a new approach to providing social care to those who need it in Russia through a few major novelties.
First of all, social support is going to become available to a much larger number of categories of people starting 2015. This law extends the list of recipients of social services from low-income families and individuals, war veterans, disabled individuals and individuals suffering from exposure to radiation (as defined by the previously adopted law On the State Social Support of 1999) to also include special needs- and socially challenged children, victims of home abuse, substance abusers, the homeless – and just about anyone else who has found themselves in a difficult life situation. Russian regions, according to Law No. 442-FZ, are free to establish most detailed lists of such individuals.
Secondly, any social support in Russia will from now on be based on individualized programs to include a complete curriculum to help an individual cope with a difficult life situation. In other words, those requiring social support will no longer be the only ones responsible for deciding what exactly is needed to change things for the better. Clearly, not everyone is a doctor or a therapist, and there are lots of people who need some guidance on what to do before they sign up for a social program. Upon referring to one of the social support offices, individuals can now request a full individual program design, – and Pursuant to Item 6 of Article 9 of the law, every recipient of social support services is entitled to participation in such process to ensure that suggested measures fit their needs.
Thirdly, the state has enlarged the circle of qualifying providers of social services by adding non-governmental institutions to the list. From now on, individual entrepreneurs, small businesses, large commercial companies or non-profit organizations can all equally apply to become social services providers in Russia. To encourage this new development, the government established a zero income tax to such legal entities, – as well as allocated 160 million rubles (approx. $2.5 million at today’s exchange rate 1USD = 63.11 rubles) to help attract individual entrepreneurs and non-governmental organizations to this project.
Furthermore, individuals now gain more control over the social support they are receiving. Anyone can choose whether they would like social help to be provided to them by the state, individual entrepreneurs, commercial organizations or non-profit institutions, – as well as choose a specific provider within each category.
The law has also specified that out of all those who qualify for social support, minorities, victims of emergencies and armed inter-ethnic conflicts, and those who make less than 1.5 of the minimum wage established in a specific region shall be entitled to such support free of charge.
Source – Rossiyskaya Gazeta. Prepared and written by Veronica Zubrilina (International Institute of Administration, Class of 2011)