Ukrainian Government’s response to COVID-19
Olena Tarasiuk (European Centre’s NLO Ukraine), Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine
Due to the spread of the coronavirus disease COVID-19, the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine is constantly working on the development and improvement of anti-crisis measures aimed at strengthening the social protection. A number of initiatives have been taken in Ukraine to support socially vulnerable groups.
Old-age pensions has been improved, in particular, it was provided:
- a lump-sum payment of 1,000 UAH (exchange rate for early May approximately 29.5 UAH per 1 EUR) for more than 10 million pensioners who have a pension up to 5 thousand UAH and more than 600,000 citizens receiving state social assistance for disability instead of pension;
- monthly pension allowance of 500 UAH for 1.5 million pensioners aged of 80 years or older and whose pension payment does not exceed 9205 UAH;
- indexation of labor pensions by 11% for 7 million pensioners.
Pensions and state social benefits are being reassigned automatically without submitting the necessary documents during the quarantine period and one month after the date of completion, in particular for:
- low-income families;
- families with children;
- persons with disabilities.
The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine adopted a resolution on providing additional social guarantees within the quarantine period for individuals entrepreneurs with children and people who lost their jobs and registered at the employment center as unemployed.
Individual entrepreneurs with children and people who lost their jobs and registered at the employment center as unemployed will receive social assistance for each child up to 10 years old at the Subsistence Minimum size for a child of respective age. About 300 thousand families will receive this payment.
The program of housing subsidies has been strengthened, which for the quarantine period provides:
- prohibition of the termination of the provision of assigned housing subsidies, except in cases where it is impossible to provide housing subsidies (transfer of a household to another dwelling or a single person death);
- additional social protection measures for workers who have been dismissed due to the quarantine (taking into account their income of the unemployment benefit when assigning a housing subsidy instead of the salary, which they received at their previous job); and
- providing additional compensation for the costs of some housing services to recipients of housing subsidies increasing by 50% the social standards for electricity, natural gas for cooking and heating water, cold and hot water, drainage due to the forced permanent staying at home and increase of consumption of related services.
The Government decision of 22 April 2020 extended from two to three months the term of arrears on payment of housing and communal services to recipients of housing subsidies and benefits, in the case of which a housing subsidy is not assigned.
Initiatives for internally displaced persons have also been taken, specifically:
- payment of social benefits (pensions, all types of social benefits and compensation, financial support, provision of social services, etc.) to internally displaced persons which were assigned before quarantine measures related to the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was continued,
- it is forbidden to carry out checks on the actual place of residence / stay of internally displaced persons when assigning (renewing) social benefits.
The social protection of the insured citizens of Ukraine has been strengthened, in particular:
The list of insurance cases for which temporary disability assistance has been extended. Insured persons in health care facilities, as well as in self-isolation under medical supervision in connection with the activities aimed at preventing the emergence and spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) receive 50 percent of the average wage (income) regardless of the length of service (estimated number of recipients – 5.8 million).
For the quarantine period, the granting of the status of ‘unemployed person’ will take place immediately after the application is submitted, and the unemployment benefit will be granted from the first day after the registration.
Social protection for single elderly people is also strengthened. In particular, the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine has instructed regional state administrations to:
- intensify the work on identifying and serving at home single persons and people living alone, assisting elderly and persons with disabilities in paying for housing services;
- take measures to arrange visits to single persons and people living alone by workers of institutions of the social protection system for the care of them, deliver of medicines and food to them to secure the infection of elderly and persons with disabilities;
- organize of constant monitoring of epidemic situation in institutions and establishments, strengthen of cooperation with territorial health care institutions.
In order to prevent infection of elderly people as well as persons with disabilities who reside permanently in residential institutions of the social protection system, the Ministry of Social Policy recommended to the regional state administrations:
- to limit as much as possible visits to the caregivers and children by parents, legal representatives, relatives, other persons;
- to provide daily temperature screening and enhanced health monitoring for caregivers, children and staff of institutions.
The Ministry of Social Policy, together with the National Network of Grocery Stores ATB, has started providing food kits to single persons and people living alone, aged over 80, elderly in need of care, and persons with disabilities.
For reference: during 2-3 weeks of April 2020, each region and Kyiv, was provided with food kits. The food kit included, in particular, salt, sugar, wheat grits, oat flakes, pasta, rice, oil, tea, cookies, lemon. About 527,621 citizens were provided with food kits.
In order to create conditions for the involvement of charitable, non-governmental organizations, businesses, and volunteers to assist single elderly people, persons with disabilities, families with children, including children with disabilities, an information platform “Dopomoga Poruch” (“Help is nearby”) is being created. This platform will be filled with information on the needs / applications of single elderly people, persons with disabilities, and families with children. The information will be provided by the structural units for social protection of the population of the oblast and the Kyiv city state administrations. The received applications will be processed by the executive bodies, local self-government bodies, charitable and public organizations, socially responsible businesses, and volunteers. On the information platform the relevant telephone numbers will be placed, in order to facilitate and coordinate the transfer of assistance from a specific business, charity, or public organization to the direct recipient of assistance.
In addition, public communications are being made by posting up-to-date information on changes in the social sphere on the official website of the Ministry of Social Policy (msp.gov.ua).