The socio-economic situation in Ukraine and measures to combat the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic

During 2020 there was a steady increase in people’s incomes. The nominal incomes of the population increased by 6.1% compared to the preceding year and in the first quarter of 2021 there was an additional rise by 16.1%.

21/10/21 Olena Tarasiuk, Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, Ukraine

The income situation

During 2020 there was a steady increase in people’s incomes. The nominal incomes of the population increased by 6.1% compared to the preceding year and in the first quarter of 2021 there was an additional rise by 16.1%.

This increase in income was in particular due to increasing social standards and statutory guarantees. For instance, the defined subsistence minimum increased by 8.0% in 2020 and by another 9.3% in 2021. It is now at about 2,300 UAH which is about €75. In line with the growth of the subsistence minimum, all statutory social entitlements determined by it were increased.

Also the minimum wage increased, namely by 19.8% in 2020, but by January 2021 it has been even 27% higher than a year before.

During this period the average monthly salary increased by 10.4 % and amounted to almost 11,591 UAH (about €376) while the average pension increased by 13.8%. On 1 July, it amounted to 3,779 UAH (about €123).

In order to create preconditions for the further development of the subsistence minimum and to change the approaches of its calculation, a draft law was developed and submitted to the Parliament (Verkhovna Rada) of Ukraine. The draft law stipulates in particular that only the minimum pension and social benefits as the main source of income for a person should depend on the threshold of the subsistence minimum.

The Human Development Strategy

In order to address the most important challenges of social development, such as the unfavorable medical and demographic situation, the low level of welfare and the low efficiency of the health and social protection system, the Human Development Strategy was adopted.

This Strategy is a comprehensive document that sets out long-term and strategic goals as well as main tasks to be implemented in the areas of demographic development, health, education and science, culture and sports as well as in the improvement of living standards, the establishment of family values and in ensuring equal rights for women and men.

The Poverty Reduction Strategy

In order to reduce and prevent poverty, the Poverty Reduction Strategy was implemented, which had a positive impact on the poverty situation. Between 2016 and 2019 the poverty rate (share of incomes below the actual subsistence minimum) decreased in absolute terms from 51.1% to 23.1 %.

However, due to the deteriorating socio-economic situation caused by the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and related measures (lock-down, quarantine etc.) the poverty rate has slightly increased again in 2020 to 23.2 %.

Mitigating the negative impact of the pandemic

In order to mitigate the negative consequences of the pandemic, the Ministry of Social Policy has introduced a number of measures and the Government has adopted several regulations aimed at supporting business, the working population and vulnerable groups, including:

  • A simplified mechanism for providing housing subsidies was introduced and the reassignment of housing subsidies without new application was provided for existing beneficiaries.
  • Subsidies to persons who lost their jobs due to quarantine were established.
  • To support families with children in quarantine conditions in 2020, an additional assistance was introduced for each child under ten years as well as to one-person companies.
  • The extension of payment of previously assigned state social benefits was provided for the new period without the need for personal application.
  • One-time cash benefits in the amount of 1,000 UAH (about €32) to certain categories of the population for more than ten million pensioners and recipients of social benefits were provided.
  • Since August 1, 2020, targeted assistance to the pension payment was established to 10,000 family members of persons who died as a result of injury, mutilation, contusion or other damage to health received during direct participation in anti-terrorist operations.
  • Social protection of insured citizens of Ukraine was strengthened, in particular: the list of insured events was expanded for temporary disability benefits.
  • To insured persons in health care facilities, as well as on self-isolation under medical supervision due to COVID-19, 50% of the average income is paid regardless of the contribution period (estimated recipients: 6 million). In addition, a sickness benefit is paid to health care workers as 100% of the average income regardless of the contribution period.
  • One-time financial assistance in the amount of 8,000 UAH (about €260) was established to insured persons whose activities were temporarily suspended due to measures against the pandemic.
  • Additional guarantees (insurance payments) to health care workers in case of disability or death were introduced.
  • Salaries for employees of public social services providing home care were boosted by up to 100 % of salary.

Moreover, the endeavours to strengthen social protection for the most vulnerable are ongoing. In particular, in 2021 incentive mechanisms for unemployed workers from low-income families to return to the labour market was introduced. They are provided with assistance in starting their own business, including purchasing equipment and materials (the programme will start in January 2022). To support low-income families with many children, the Government has decided to provide one-time cash benefits in the amount of 2,000 UAH (about €65) per child to prepare for the school year. This payment should be provided to 145,000 children raised in large low-income families.

Strategy for Digital Transformation

A new Strategy for Digital Transformation of the Social Sphere was adopted by the Government of Ukraine in October 2021. The main objective is to create a unified information environment in the area of social welfare and social work, in particular a unified register of providers, clients of social services and beneficiaries of cash benefits, as well as to introduce a system of monitoring and evaluation.

Electronic services are being introduced using the “Unified Information System of the Social Sphere” to bring social services closer to citizens, which will ensure, in particular, the provision of all services at one approximate point.

Other activities

The National Action Plan for the Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities until 2025 has been approved.

The Concept of creation and development of the system of early intervention, which is aimed at integrating the spheres of health care, preschool education, social protection into the system of early intervention, was approved.

In order to create favorable conditions for employment of persons with disabilities the Government adopted the draft Law of Ukraine in March 2021. It provides the balance of interests of both persons with disabilities and employers with the aim to increase the level of employment of persons with disabilities. The draft law is currently in the legislative process at Parliament.

With these decisions and interventions the Government of Ukraine is taking appropriate steps and providing measures in the area of social welfare to implement Ukraine’s European integration commitments and to improve the welfare of citizens.

47th General Assembly Meeting 2021: Successful focus on intergovernmental cooperation

The 47th General Assembly Meeting (GAM) of the European Centre closed with a great success with over 50 participants.  It was the first GAM 2021 which was open to the public and took place fully virtual for the second time on 19 & 20 October 2021.

The 47th General Assembly Meeting (GAM) of the European Centre closed with a great success with over 50 participants online from various countries, namely Austria, Azerbaijan, Finland, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine etc. It was the first GAM 2021 which was open to the public and took place fully virtual for the second time on 19 & 20 October 2021. The GAM 2021 focused on intergovernmental cooperation in social policy and research and around 60 participants including our Board Members, NLOs, observers, as well as European Centre staff discussed international strategies regarding the UN Agenda 2030 or the WHO Decade on Healthy Ageing. The presentations are accessible with this link.

We look forward to continue our successful collaboration and see you in person next year for the GAM 2022 at  the UN Vienna premises.

Meta-evaluation and evaluation standards in social policy

Meta-evaluation is an “evaluation of evaluations” to improve future evaluation work. As a highly relevant topic for professionals working in social policy, the third module of the virtual Bridge-Building Summer School of Evaluation in Social Policies (August 25-27, 2021) was about meta-evaluation and evaluation standards in social policy.

15/09/21: By Rahel Kahlert, European Centre

Meta-evaluation is an “evaluation of evaluations” to improve future evaluation work. As a highly relevant topic for professionals working in social policy, the third module of the virtual Bridge-Building Summer School of Evaluation in Social Policies (25-27 August 2021) was about meta-evaluation and evaluation standards in social policy. This module was one of eight modules covered by the Summer School, which combined capacity building by enhancing knowledge and information sharing on the state-of the-art research and policy practices, exchanging shared experiences among participants, and developing ideas and proposals for “real-world” projects. “Real world” refers to the idea that evaluations take place under budget, time, data, and political constraints (see Bamberger & Mabry, 2019). One central focus was the interactive, hands-on small-group work with practical exercises to foster peer learning. Eye level interactions were core building blocks. The thirteen participants shared their expertise in either conducting or commissioning evaluations. The participants were social policy professionals from both the public and private sector in the Western Balkan region and Eastern Partnership region (in particular, Azerbaijan, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Moldova, North Macedonia, and Ukraine).

The module on meta-evaluation and standards started with a short introduction about meta-evaluation by guest speaker Thomas Vogel, head of programmes at Horizon 3000, the largest Austrian non-governmental development cooperation organisation, where evaluation plays a key role for learning and accountability. Mr. Vogel introduced the difference between evaluation synthesis and meta-evaluation. Evaluation synthesis analyses a series of evaluation reports and aggregates findings on a higher level such as programme, country, or sector level. The aim is to find out how programmes or projects can be improved. Meta-evaluation also analyses a series of evaluation reports, but then analyses the quality of each evaluation. The aim is to find out how evaluations can be improved in the future. Meta-evaluation can enhance the quality in evaluation by using and applying evaluation standards for all levels of quality including scope, methodology, independence of evaluators, utility etc.

Rahel Kahlert then provided a brief input on widely used standards in evaluation such as the UNEG Norms and Standards (updated in 2016) to be upheld in the conduct of any evaluation. Professional evaluation associations such as the German Evaluation Society or the Swiss Evaluation Society developed their own standards for evaluators to apply in their daily professional work. Common features include accuracy (methodological and technical standards), propriety (legal and ethical standards), utility (serving information needs of intended users), and feasibility (realistic, cost-effective evaluation). As evaluators, we have to remind ourselves that we are dealing with persons and intervene in a setting. Therefore, it is important to follow ethical guidelines and protect human participants similar to any research setting.

The small-group breakout sessions dealt with the question: “How can standards enhance the quality of an evaluation?” The teams of 4 to 5 persons selected two to three evaluation standards and then applied them to a “real-world” setting. The teams used the online pad tool Google JamBoard (see Figure 1) to make their case by adding post-its. For all three teams, utility stood out as important evaluation standard. Involving stakeholders was regarded as a means of enhancing utility, i.e. improving the uptake of findings. This may sometimes conflict with the standard of independence, when donors or programme staff would like to influence evaluation findings (“interested only in the good stories (positive findings)”). Accuracy can be enhanced through triangulation and cross-referencing data, which ultimately also can improve utility and uptake.

Summarily, the module on meta-evaluation and standards was a lively, interactive experience with all participants engaged, and set the scene for further productive interactions. At the end of the Summer School, participants expressed their intention that they will apply evaluation standards in their evaluation work more strongly and engage in meta-evaluation in the future to ensure evaluation quality.

15/10/21: CfP Eastern Partnership Programme – Expanding cooperation with civil society in the EaP & Russia

The programme, Expanding Cooperation with Civil Society in the Eastern Partnership Countries and Russia, enables civil-society organisations and the members of the public active in them to implement joint projects, thereby supporting the ongoing transformation processes in the region.

15/10/21: CfP Eastern Partnership Programme – Expanding cooperation with civil society in the EaP & Russia

The programme, Expanding Cooperation with Civil Society in the Eastern Partnership Countries and Russia, enables civil-society organisations and the members of the public active in them to implement joint projects, thereby supporting the ongoing transformation processes in the region.

Through the programme, the German Government funds measures that provide comprehensive support to the transformation and internal integration processes via collaboration between German civil society and civil societies in the Eastern Partnership countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine) and Russia.

This includes the entire range of cultural and civic education projects – media, academia, education including vocational training, culture, language and work with young people. Project outlines (in English or German) for the year 2022 can be submitted from 10 September 2021 until 15 October 2021 via this website . Read more

03/10/21 CfP: increasing access to justice for victims of discrimination

The Council of Europe is launching a call for proposals with the aim to co-fund national and local projects in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine focusing at supporting victims of discrimination, hate speech and hate crimes, particularly from vulnerable groups.

03/10/21 CfP: Grants for support to civil society organisations for increasing access to justice for victims of discrimination in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine

Under the framework of the European Union/Council of Europe joint programme Partnership for Good Governance, and its regional project “Strengthening access to justice through non-judicial redress mechanisms for victims of discrimination, hate speech and hate crimes in the Eastern Partnership countries”, the Council of Europe is launching a call for proposals with the aim to co-fund national and local projects in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine focusing at supporting victims of discrimination, hate speech and hate crimes, particularly from vulnerable groups.

The deadline for the submission of application is 3 October 2021 (at 17:00 CET). Applications should be sent to the following e-mail address: tenders.antidiscrimination@coe.int. Read more

12/09/21 CfP: EaP CSF Re-granting to members 2021

This Call for Proposals seeks to allocate grant funding to projects which monitor the implementation of EaP targets, deliverables and related reforms (Lot 1), and addressing the EaP CSF’s strategic and advocacy priorities (Lot 2).

12/09/21 CfP: EaP CSF Re-granting to members 2021 – Lot 1 & Lot 2

Following the success of its Re-granting to Working Groups scheme over the past six years, the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) Secretariat is launching a Call for Proposals under its new, re-worked Re-granting to Members programme. This scheme aims to support the work of EaP CSF members to develop and deliver on the strategic policy, advocacy and capacity building priorities of the Forum within the regional dimension. Read more

Online article: Strengthening resilience in the Eastern Partnership countries

Online article: Can the EU’s new global strategy make a difference? Strengthening resilience in the Eastern Partnership countries by Kakachia et at.

This article assesses the European Union’s (EU) performance in promoting societal resilience in the Eastern Partnership countries (EaP) on examples of Georgia and Ukraine. We examine two approaches to external resilience-building employed by the EU: support for the sources of societal resilience (social trust, legitimacy of governance actors, design of governance institutions) and prevention of domestic and external risks. Read more

Book: The Struggle for good Governance in Eastern Europe

Book: The Struggle for good Governance in Eastern Europe by Emerson et al.

At a time when many regions of the world, Europe included, see a resurgence of authoritarianism, several countries in Eastern Europe: Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Armenia, are struggling to counter this trend by developing European-style democracies.

In this second edition, three years after the first, the story of Eastern Europe’s dramatic struggles to achieve properly functioning democracies and the rule of law rages on, warranting deeper analysis and substantial updating. Read more

Report: Policies for human capital development: Eastern Partnership

Report: Policies for human capital development: Eastern Partnership: an ETF Torino Process assessment by Deij

The present regional report for the Eastern Partnership is the result of the fifth round of the Torino Process (2018-2020). The report coincides with the planning for the Eastern Partnership post-2020 policy framework and aims to provide a solid basis for regional policy dialogue between the EU and Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine on human capital development issues. It is designed to support medium- to longer-term strategic thinking in VET, looks into the regional aspects of education outcomes, and discusses commonalities while respecting the differences between the countries of the region. The report provides a summary of key policy updates, data and information, including an overview of countries’ progress against key EU benchmarks and donor contributions to human capital in the region. Read more

Working Paper17: Ideas and ReflectionsAbout the Application and Elaboration of the Social Quality Approach (Sqa) in Central & EasternEuropean countries: The Case of Ukraine

Working Paper 17: Ideas and Reflections About the Application and Elaboration of the Social Quality Approach (Sqa) in Central and Eastern European countries: The Case of Ukraine

Starting Points of the previous international Joint Research Project Ukraine (INRU project), as well as new SQA-Projects in EuropeSouth-East Asia, Australia and Beyond

The IASQ’s working papers are outcomes of preliminary research and provisional discussions about topics, concerning the Social Quality Theory (SQT) and Approach (SQA).The present working paper is an outcome of a dialogue between scholars from Ukraine and scholars from member states of the European Union. The initiative for this in fact globally oriented dialogue has comefrom the Institute for Economics and Forecast of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (IEF/NASU). Read more