Social paradigm of the Middle Urals
17.12.2012 — Analysis
The issue addressing social protection of the population of Russia has been moved to the front burner, though, fortunately, it has nothing to do with deteriorating quality of life of Russian people. On the contrary, achievements observed within the past years prove that the fight against poverty has been successful. However, the population is noticeably turning gray. Today, ageing is a problem in all European countries, and the Russian government has set the objective to reach the average life expectancy of 74 by 2018. The objective is quite challenging and cannot be solved only through efforts of doctors. It needs a combination of solutions.
Today, in the Sverdlovsk Region there are 988 thousand senior citizens accounting for 23% of the region’s population. This number is only slightly larger than the Russian average 22%. The quality of their life depends directly on actions of the government authorities – the more effective their efforts are, the better life retired people will have.
The Senior Generation Program is being successfully implemented in the region. Over the period of 2011-2013 the government authorities will allocate 2 billion 574 million rubles to the program. What are the main expenditure items? They are medication support for retired people, provision of hospitals with medical equipment, purchasing of 40 ambulances.
Representatives of the regional government have informed RusBusinessNews that senior people living in remote villages are attended by visiting doctors at least twice a month. In the first half of 2012 doctors made 268 visits. Another important achievement is the extending network of village-based pharmacies in the Sverdlovsk Region. Following the recommendations of the regional ministry of healthcare, the administration of pharmacy organizations has provided the stable stock of medications and pharmaceuticals selected for specific diseases to meet the needs of veterans, disabled people and participants of World War II, who live in certain areas.
Time is associated not only with the age, but also with the present-day challenges where the age is no obstacle. Senior people do not mind learning the computer skills and gaining the Internet competence. The acquired skills help them to gain access to different online services and to use diversified modern sources of information. In 2011, more than 4 thousand retired people completed training courses; this year their number has increased almost to 10 thousand. In 2013, the number of trainees is expected to increase by half.
The present time has another distinguishing feature: the shortage of younger employees, on the one hand, and willingness of retired people to work, on the other hand. Almost 1,500 senior residents of the Sverdlovsk Region have found a job with the assistance of the employment service.
The schools of the advanced age are aimed to help retired citizens to overcome the communication deficit. In 2012, the number of students in these schools exceeded 20 thousand people. The computer literacy courses were most popular among the trainees who also were interested in recommendations for active longevity and classes in decorative and applied arts.
Special attention is given to sports and culture programs for senior people. In spring 2012, senior citizens were offered two subsidized guided tours – Verkhoturye – the Spiritual Capital of the Urals. Under the social and cultural project – the Weekend Family Express «We Are Visiting Ekaterinburg» - almost 2,500 retirees were able to visit the Sverdlovsk Regional Philharmonic, the Variety Theater, the Musical Comedy Theater and the Opera and Ballet Theater free of charge.
The project known as the Social Card of the Consumer Market is currently being implemented in 66 municipalities of the Sverdlovsk Region. More than 39 thousand card holders who need social protection can buy products at reduced prices.
Undoubtedly, the regional social policy is not limited to the assistance provided to elderly people. The comprehensive assistance is provided to families and children. Last year, the number of multi-child families increased by 12% and totals more than 27 thousand. The monthly allowance for a child is available to more than 175 thousand residents of the Sverdlovsk Region. Since 2005 the size of the allowance has increased four times. For example, the multi-child family receives 1,788 rubles monthly for each child.
In 2013 the Sverdlovsk Region will enact the regional maternity capital law. The 100 thousand ruble certificate will be granted to women who gave birth to the third or fourth, etc. child after January 1, 2011. The certificate can be used for education of children or for improvement of the family’s living conditions. 875 million rubles have been earmarked for such certificates in the regional budget.
By the way, the Sverdlovsk Region was one of the first in Russia to introduce the badge of merit known as Mother’s Valor. Over six years, the badge of merit has been awarded to 2,273 women who brought up five or more children. The badge goes with the bonus that depends on the number of kids – ranging from 28 to 113 thousand rubles.
The government authorities of the Sverdlovsk Region make every effort to protect orphans and children deprived of parental care. The priority objective is to find a loving family for a child, and the efforts bring positive results. There are more than 19 thousand orphan children in the region. Only 25% of them live in government-financed institutions; all the other children have been adopted or placed under the guardianship. The total number of orphan children goes down by 2-3% annually. The similar trend is observed in orphanages where the number of children without parental care is steadily decreasing. Last year about 900 orphanage children found their new families.
The families that decided to adopt a child are thoroughly prepared for their future responsibilities. Since September 2012, pursuant to the federal legislation, training of such families has become compulsory. The Sverdlovsk Region has Schools for Adopting Parents. Such schools were opened under the program known as "All Children Are Ours!" and aimed at improvement of the living conditions of orphans and children deprived of parental care. In 2011, the schools trained 1,763 people – exceeding by 41.4% the number of the trainees in the previous year. The result was not slow to arrive — the number of denials of applications for adoption of orphaned children has decreased dramatically. If in 2009 the guardianship and custodianship agencies turned down 330 applications, the number of denials reduced to 150 in 2011.
These programs and other measures aimed at social support of the population will remain effective in the Sverdlovsk Region in 2013. The earmarked funds total 30.7 billion rubles, exceeding almost by 12% the amount of the current year. The lion’s share of the funds (79%) will be allocated for payment of 143 kinds of social allowances, compensations and provision of social services. Special attention will be given to social assistance provided to families with children, including multi-child families and families having disabled, fostered and adopted children.
Next year, the expenses on lump-sum payments for orphanage renovation will increase 2.7 times (101 million rubles). The amount of 100 million rubles will be allocated for rehabilitation and health improvement of the children who encountered severe life situations. The expenses on institutions providing social services to the population will amount to 3.9 billion rubles. There are also funds earmarked for raise in salaries paid to employees of such institutions.
It should be noted that in industrialized countries the level of social development is measured by the care about the weaker representatives of society rather than by the wealth gained by its stronger members. By and large, the situation in Russia leaves much to be desired; however, its regions, including the Sverdlovsk Region, are steadily moving ahead. "We must reverse the situation in the next few years, eliminate all the loss zones in the social sector when funds are wasted and channeled to the people who can easily do without them rather than to those who need them desperately. Each ruble channeled to the social sector must "produce justice," Vladimir Putin wrote in his article published in February under the title "Building of Justice. Social Policy for Russia", while he was the Prime Minister, before he became the President.
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