Expanding the role of NGOs in social services in Russia
The Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Maxim Topilin, has requested the preparation of a list of measures aimed at creating favourable conditions to encourage the lessening of the state’s role in the social sphere and more opportunities for NGOs to enter the social service market in all parts of Russia.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of the Russian Federation held a meeting on the involvement of non-governmental organisations in the provision of social services following the order of the President concerning the development of the non-profit sector. Earlier the President had ordered the development of a programme for ensuring “gradual access for socially-oriented NGOs operating in the social sphere via the use of budget funds allocated for the provision of social services to the population, based on the feasibility of allowing them access to up to 10% of the funds allocated for the implementation of such relevant programmes by the state as well as local government.”
Those present at the meeting discussed the experience of the Perm region, which has been in the process of reforming its system of social services since 2006. By 2016 more than 50 non-governmental organisations in the Perm region were involved in the provision of social services, with every second inhabitant of the region now benefiting from social services from the non-state sector. Over the last ten years more than 3000 jobs have been created in non-governmental organisations providing social services, while the number of people in need of their social services has increased by 75%. Furthermore, the queuing system for inpatient social services has been discontinued in the Perm region.
Commercial organisations are primarily represented in this market while NGOs only participate in the provision of services via subsidies in terms of providing only the most popular and specialist services. In the Perm region, the share of state government contracts as a percentage of the total expenditure on social services is 44%, while the share of NGO grants as a percentage of the total expenditure in this sphere is only 0.6%.
It is currently necessary to solve these two problems, says the Chairman of the Public Council of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and member of the Russian Civic Chamber Elena Topoleva: to provide support for NGOs for their entry into the social services market as well as to increase their competitiveness in this market. “It seems to me that these two tasks can be combined. Support for NGOs, in my opinion, should take the form of enabling them to enter the market and via the provision of additional training. This should involve mass training and it is, at the moment, unclear how and by whom this can be done. But this would undoubtedly provide genuine support for NGOs”, she argued. Topoleva hopes that the Corporate University of the Civic Chamber will be heavily involved in this, but also adds that this project will need to involve as many people as possible so that they can all benefit.
In the near future the regional ministries will be required to adopt a new road map for the future – a list of urgent measures aimed at fulfilling the orders of the President. The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, in consultation with the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation and representatives from the public sphere, will prepare proposals in accordance with this new road map. The order for this process to begin was given by the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Maxim Topilin. It is also important that the same sort of work should also be undertaken by other ministries linked to the provision of social services, emphasised Topoleva.
Federal regions should be guided by the experience of the Perm region, she suggests, but there willl no concrete scheme for increasing NGO involvement in the social services sphere, there will just be a list of measures (the organisation of certain actions to be taken etc.) for regional Ministries to take. It is expected that the list of expected activities and measures will, among other things, include an informal list of NGOs who are either already working in the field of social services or may potentially be involved in the sphere in the future. Regional Civic Chambers and Resource Centres can then be involved in refining these aforementioned lists and checking which organisations are included on them.
AUTHOR: Georgiy Ivanushkin