The Moscow Government implemented all of its social commitments in 2016. “Allocations for social subsidies amounted to 347 billion roubles in 2016. The Moscow Government and the Moscow City Duma have implemented all their social support commitments. Benefits have been provided in full in keeping with the law, and the quality of social services and the targeting of social services in the city have improved,” Vladimir Petrosyan, head of the Department of Labour and Social Protection, reported at a meeting of the Moscow Government Presidium.
Additional payments were issued to 2.05 million people under regional programmes to raise pensioners’ income up to the city social standard. Some 4.5 million Muscovites receive utility and major repair subsidies. Approximately 3.7 million people can use public transit in Moscow free of charge or at a discount, and 900,000 are entitled to telephone bill benefits.
Increased social payments and benefits
Monthly payments to 2,700 participants in the Battle of Moscow were increased 43 percent on 1 January 2016, from 2,780 to 4,000 roubles.
Monthly payments to foster families raising orphans have been increased 10 percent to 16,500−27,500 roubles, depending on the child’s age, the number of orphans in a foster family and their health.
Monthly payments to adoptive (foster) parents have been increased to 16,700 roubles per child (28,400 roubles per child with disabilities).
“In 2016, the social standard for pensions to non-working pensioners was increased by 20 percent to 14,500 roubles. Nearly 600,000 Moscow pensioners qualified for this,” Vladimir Petrosyan said.
A law on additional major repair benefits for senior Muscovites was adopted in late March 2016. This has improved the financial status of over 100,000 Muscovites aged between 70 and 80.
Moscow was the only region in Russia that maintained electricity and other utility benefits for people with disabilities regardless of the volume of consumption. A total of 1.1 million people are entitled to these benefits.
In connection with the 75th anniversary of the Soviet counteroffensive in the Battle of Moscow, one-time payments to war veterans were doubled to 10,000 roubles. These allocations were issued to 18,100 people with disabilities who fought in the Great Patriotic War and the Battle of Moscow.
Social support for families
“Special attention in our programme was given to families, including multi-child families and families raising children with disabilities. These measures have boosted the birth rate; 146,000 babies were born in Moscow in 2016 or nearly 3,000 more than the year before,” the department head said.
By the end of 2016, the number of multi-child families in Moscow almost doubled from 65,700 families raising 163,200 children in 2010 to 117,900 families with 294,000 children.
The social protection system in the city consists of 31 family and childhood protection organisations and 44 branches of social service centres that provide support to families and children. These organisations take care of 104,100 families with 223,300 children. They provide recreation and food assistance to over 10,000 children from low income families.
Finding families for parentless children
Over the past six years, the number of Moscow orphans and children left without parental care placed with foster families has grown by 48 percent, from 12,665 in 2010 to 18,782 in 2016.
Only 74 percent of abandoned children were placed with families in 2010, while last year this number grew to 91 percent.
“The number of orphaned children placed with foster families is growing every year. Currently, 91 percent of parentless children live with foster families. Only nine percent are at children’s homes. When we started our work four years ago, these figures were 74 percent and 26 percent, respectively,” Vladimir Petrosyan said. The share of orphaned and parentless children who live at children’s homes has decreased almost threefold, from 26 percent to nine percent (4,371 children in 2010 and 1,899 children in 2016).
Moscow currently has 57 schools for foster parents, accommodating over 4,000 people in 2016 alone. In 2014, a pilot project was launched to support foster families that raise orphaned teenagers and/or children with disabilities. In all, support was provided to 35 families with 208 children, 68 of them disabled. The foster parents in these families received flats where they can temporarily live together with the children; they will be granted ownership of the flats if they fulfill their obligations.
An awareness campaign is underway to promote foster parenting and its advantages. The programme includes:
— organising socially important city events (Stork’s Wings award, the Moscow Forum of Foster Families, and others);
— advertising in the media and on the streets;
— developing the website.
Providing social support to Great Patriotic War veterans
There are 97,600 Great Patriotic War veterans living in Moscow; 15,400 of them took part in combat operations or are disabled, and 82,200 are homefront workers.
Over 27,000 veterans receive social services at home; 700 bedridden people who live alone receive support from the nurse service of the Moscow House of War Veterans and Armed Forces. All of them have nurse call buttons.
Over 3,000 veterans have been provided with treatment at Crimean resorts.
Over 5,000 veterans who live alone took part in the Spa at Home programme for people who, for health reasons, are unable to travel to spa resorts. However, they are offered 21 days at the “Spa at Home” with individual treatment and diet programmes, and a comfortable emotional environment.
Vladimir Petrosyan emphasised that the city has always prioritised the support of senior citizens. “Moscow is gradually aging. There are currently 360,000 people over 80 years of age, and over 570 of them have celebrated their 100th birthday. In this connection, Moscow is developing a new programme, Active Longevity, which is coordinated with the federal government strategy to improve the quality of life of elderly people.”
Supporting people with disabilities
“There are 1.1 million people with disabilities in Moscow. There were 1.2 million just last year. We have reduced the number by about 100,000 for the first time in the past 25 years thanks to measures taken by the Moscow Government, including the development of rehabilitation services, the provision of the necessary equipment and modernisation of the healthcare system,” Vladimir Petrosyan said.
In 2016, prosthetic and other rehabilitation equipment was issued to about 270,000 people, or 95 percent of those who applied for help. According to the department head, only 78 percent of such requests were fulfilled in 2010. He added that over 55,000 people received rehabilitation services and some 130,000 received vouchers to health resorts. Over 6,500 children and young people with disabilities were sent to Crimea for recreation.
The proportion of social facilities that are fully or partially suited for people with limited mobility reached 85 percent last year (up from 54 percent in 2010).
The accessibility of public transit has increased. The surface rolling stock of the Moscow public transport operator Mosgortrans is being gradually replaced with low-floor vehicles. Last year, 89 percent of buses, 62 percent of trolleybuses and 20 percent of trams were replaced by new vehicles.
In the metro, 33 stations have lifts, 39 are equipped with tactile safety tiles and 174 stations use special sounds to alert passengers that a train is about to arrive. The Passenger Mobility Centre also helps people with disabilities move around the metro.
Municipal budget allocations for targeted social support to people in need reached 1.7 billion roubles in 2016. Financial assistance was provided to 78,400 people.
In all, these vulnerable people were issued 343,000 food packages, 111,400 sets of clothing and 33,800 durable goods. This assistance was mostly provided in the form of electronic certificates, including for 83 percent of food packages, 77 percent of clothing and 100 percent of durables, so that people could use them to choose what they need.
Online government services
Moscow was among the leaders in the online provision of social protection services. As of now, 27 government services are issued online, including applications for social payments to families, multi-child certificates, social payments to senior citizens and much more. Applications for all social payments can be filed online without going to social protection or My Documents government service centres.
Last year, nine government services were converted to an online format:
— 1 March: two services regarding the provision of one-time payments to mothers upon childbirth;
— 1 October: seven services regarding monthly social payments to multi-child families.
The demand for online social services soared in 2016. “The number of applications filed online at the government services portal increased more than fivefold in 2016, to 245,000 from 45,000 the year before,” Vladimir Petrosyan said.
The Moscow Government’s plans for 2017 include:
— improving accessibility of social protection for Muscovites;
— strengthening the targeted and customised approach to recipients of social services;
— continuing to develop online services;
— increasing the number of orphans placed in foster care;
— enhancing targeted assistance to low-income families;
— enhancing urban comforts for elderly and disabled people.