NGOs wants state family policy concept redrafted

Moscow, 09.07.2014

On 8 July the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Maksim Topilin, presented the draft Concept for State Family Policy up to 2025 at a session of the Presidium of the Presidential Council for Priority National Projects and Demographic Policy. Most NGOs think the concept requires substantive redrafting, to include indicators for achievement of objectives, a roadmap, definition of concepts included and an order of priorities. Among the priorities it sets are the need to affirm traditional family values and the family way of life, revival and maintenance of spiritual and moral traditions in family relations, conditions for family welfare and support for the social sustainability of every family. Stress is placed on raising the active role of the family itself in provision of its welfare. Measures envisaged in the Concept apply to all families, without regard for their composition, wealth or social status.

The Minister said that by traditional family values, it means valuing marriage between a man and a woman, registered under the law, with the aim of bearing and raising children in an atmosphere of respect. He said the main unresolved issues concerned the socio-economic situation of families with children. Statistics show that 62% of low-income families (in which 13 million people live) are families with children. The government wants to find where there are families on low incomes, provide adequate benefits, and assess the varied situations in families. Benefits under the social contract system could be used to fund education and training and to help parents to find work, including in small businesses. The social contracts were introduced two years ago, and increased five-fold in 2013.

Other types of benefits under consideration include plastic cards to draw welfare benefits, already in use in St Petersburg. Cards can be used to obtain to obtain items for children in specialised shops. But there is no way for families to draw cash benefits, only goods for children.

The new concept will be implemented in two phases, in 2015-2018 and 2019-2025. Prime Minister Medvedev has called for more kindergarten and nursery places, and for more private pre-school educational establishments.

(Edited report)

Yulia Vyatkina

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