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Reduced subsistence minimum will deprive many Russians even the meagre social support that they received previously.

The authorities take away the last pennies of the poor. © Photo news Agency “Rosbalt”

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The government recently cut the average cost of living in the country at 221 rouble. Seemingly, not all that much. However, for a considerable part of Russians this pair of hundreds roubles can play a fatal role. Especially in times of crisis.

The subsistence level is the cost of the consumer basket, necessary for survival on the verge of poverty, plus the mandatory fees and charges. In this case it is formed for three socio-demographic groups: the working-age population, pensioners and children. It is believed that at least the life people spend in retirement. To date, the average for these three categories — 9452 ruble.

The consumer basket includes food, non-food goods and services. According to official estimates, able-bodied Russian to year requires 126,5 kg of bread (including flour, cereals and legumes), 100,4 kg of potatoes, 114,6 kg of vegetables, 60 kg of fruit, or 58.6 kg of meat products, of 18.5 kg of fish, 290 kg of dairy products, and 210 eggs. The need for non-food goods (clothes, shoes, perfumes, personal care items) is calculated as 50% of the cost of food. A similar 50% fall in the cost of services, i.e. utility bills, payment of travel, treatment and other things.

The subsistence level in Russia is set on a quarterly basis. Prices rose accordingly, and the basket rose in price. So, since the beginning of 2013 until mid-2015, the subsistence minimum was increased from 10017 to 6705 rubles. But then, against the backdrop of the crisis and inflation officials regularly record the decline in consumer prices. Here and now in the Ministry of labour said that the decline in the cost of food in the composition of the subsistence minimum amounted to 0.5% per capita. And all because of that cheapened potatoes, carrots and cabbage.

However, economists believe that it is impossible to judge about the level of life of Russians, appealing to the subsistence minimum. Theoretically that’s right — vegetables and a number of other products declined amid a sharp jump in prices early 2015. However, with real incomes and needs of citizens this figure was associated.

As the Vice-President of the Leningrad chamber of Commerce and industry Dmitry Prokofiev, for most Russians, the subsistence minimum has only theoretical value. A little less than nine and a half thousand rubles for the inhabitants of large cities seem ridiculous money. But this amount plays a leading role in the calculation of social costs and planning of budget expenditures. It concerns the most socially unprotected categories of citizens — low-income families, seniors and students.

But do not forget that the main burden of social payments falls to the regional budgets. The fact is that, in addition to the average Federal figures, in each subject of Federation has its subsistence minimums. They depend on socio-economic indicators of a particular region. In Moscow the average per-capita indicator — 14413 rubles, in St. Petersburg — 10019 rubles, and in some areas, this value is around 7000-8000. In practice, therefore, reducing the magnitude of the minimum in the first place will make life easier for regional governments, most of which deal with scarce budgets.

Basic social assistance related to the minimum subsistence level, which seeks to support low-income families. It can be both monthly and one-off payments. Practiced and delivery of goods, like clothes and products. In addition, such families are entitled to various benefits.

The family is poor, if the division of income of each member account for the amount below the subsistence minimum in the region of residence. When calculating take into account not only wages but also other sources of income — allowances, pensions, scholarships. You will also need to prove that the family became poor due to circumstances beyond her own. That is, non-working family members must be registered with the employment service or other compelling reason to stay at home.

Allowance for each family member depends on the region. In fact, the local government must compensate for the difference between actual income and the subsistence minimum. On average each family member a month about 800 rubles surcharges. By the way, the money can apply and citizens living alone.

Lump-sum subsidy relies upon the birth of children in low-income families, but not in all regions. To apply for financial assistance every year we can and in the event of other unforeseen circumstances — moving, death, sickness.

Poor women receive additional payments during pregnancy and breastfeeding in order to “ensure adequate nutrition” — in the region of 500 rubles. Also receive monthly money for each minor family member (the child’s age, it decreases, is also taken into account, whether the family is complete). So, in Moscow for each child accounts for about 1500 rubles, in other regions — less.

In addition, children from poor families are entitled to priority entry to kindergarten (with payment discount increasing with number of children), dairy free kitchen, and two meals in the school canteen, the right to compensation for school and sports uniforms. Sometimes before September 1 shall be paid the amount for purchase of clothing and stationery. There are also reduced fares for public transport. Depending on the region, is additionally provided with a set of different bonuses — from trips to museums and zoos to travel to the sanatorium. Students from low-income families eligible for lump-sum material assistance and social scholarship.

Financial assistance to low-income families is also expressed in tax benefits, (any subsidies from the budget are not subject to tax) and housing subsidies, the size of which depends on the region. Needy family can get in line for housing Sinaia or qualify for a special mortgage. In addition, low-income families can count on free legal aid.

The subsistence minimum does not affect the amount of the pension, but there may be a significant factor for some citizens. “If the pension total amount (including monthly Federal and regional social payments) does not reach the subsistence minimum of the pensioner established in the subject of the Russian Federation, non-working pensioner should automatically install the surcharge to this amount,” — says economist Dmitry Prokofiev.

To receive the benefits and payments you need to collect a set of documents and to contact your local Department of social protection. Only there you and can advise on the specific set of regional measures to support the poor. Because, as a rule, this information is in open access is not easy to find. The problem also is that the subsistence minimum is updated once a quarter. Today, your family can be deemed poor, and gone tomorrow. A couple of hundred rubles is of great importance. Yes, even on rouble more low, the system will leave you without support.

“The decline of the subsistence minimum does not mean that someone will not receive the 200 roubles. Just some family now get nothing, no social payments. In General, in fact, in Russia the cost of living is not a poverty line and extreme poverty line. Poor people should get in 2-2,5 times less than the average wage. That is about 12 thousand, not nine and a half. But even with the present imperfect system of calculating the minimum subsistence level can be tolerated, if it is adequately indexed with the growth of prices”, — said the Deputy of the state Duma Oksana Dmitrieva.

While in Russia the level of the subsistence minimum does not depend on the minimum wage (SMIC). At the same time, in European countries it balanced scorecard. “There’s a whole system of social support based on a different premise than ours. The idea is that a poor person is a bad buyer. If he can’t support themselves, let’s give him money so he could buy everything you need, and this money ultimately will come to those who produced these goods,” explains Dmitry Prokofiev. In Russia, however, all benefits were underestimated – in fact, in order not to encourage dependency.

According to the Ministry, in 2015 Russia lived more than 19 million citizens with incomes below the subsistence minimum. Now officials have hope that, through statistical trickery, this number will be reduced. How hard have the people who will lose vital payments, it seems that few people are interested.

Sofya Mokhova

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