In Russia, as in many other countries, social benefits do not always reach those who need them. The problem has existed for a long time, and during the pandemic the number of poor people has only increased.

In an article on 11 February 2021 in Forbes Russia “A New Contract: how to reduce poverty rate in Russia”, the Director and Resident Representative of the World Bank in Russia, Mr. Renaud Seligmann, analyzes the possibilities of introducing a “minimum guaranteed income” in Russia.

“A common solution to the problem could be the implementation of a minimum income program that would combine cash payments to recipients with other tools, primarily providing motivation to work… At the same time, monthly payments should provide a living wage for each family member… Such a program, based on the income needs assessment and family assets, can be quickly deployed on a national scale.”

According to the Federal State Statistics Service, a little more than 60% of the population receive various types of social support, but about 16% of the poor are not covered by any social programs at all. These flaws are due to the archaic nature of the state social protection system, as well as extremely backward and conservative means testing mechanisms. Many citizens do not have an elementary understanding of the types of social assistance. In the age of high technologies, other acute problems are highlighted – the level of information equipment, the lack of new methods of work, the imperfection of the means testing mechanisms used, the confusion of legislation in the social sphere, as well as the level of information literacy of the population.

Today at the federal level 3.2% of GDP is spent on social benefits. The World Bank provides the results of economic modeling based on Federal State Statistics Service data on the implementation of a phased program of minimum guaranteed income of citizens. The program would cost, according to their estimates, about 250 billion rubles, or 0.3% of GDP. Its introduction in the future will improve the situation and reduce, in their opinion, the scale of poverty by about 60%.

Although this is not a ‘basic income’ according to the BIEN definition it would represent a huge step forward in social protection in Russia.

Basic income Russia Tomorrow

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