State Duma offers to create family capital for large families
Sets for newborn babies, queues for kindergartens and school fees were discussed at parliamentary hearings in the Federation Council’s lower chamber
Options of state support for families with children were discussed at parliamentary hearings in the related committee of the Russian State Duma on 9 December. Deputies noted that not all large families could use land parcels that were given to them, build a house or buy a flat in a new-build high-rise. Families with one child also need support, and not only until the mother is one a three-year maternity leave after the baby’s birth, because the older the child, the higher the costs, parliamentarians said. Realnoe Vremya found out more about what important social initiatives could appear thanks to the lawmakers.
From plan to action
The president of Russia announced the start of the programme Decade of Childhood that prioritises children’s health and safety in January 2018. The Duma’s committee gathered heads of federal ministries as well as representatives of 55 regions for hearings on 9 December to discuss how to improve the well-being of families with children.
“We have introduced many proposals to support families and children, half of them are taken into consideration in the government. The list of benefits for not rich families and the number of recipients were expanded. There was created a bill to use maternity capital to build houses on allotments. We are discussing the topics that come from regions. There are a lot of questions,” head of the committee Tamara Pletnyova set the agenda.
“Support for families and children is an official state doctrine of the Russian Federation. The president’s decision on the Decade of Childhood appeared earlier than the national projects that became a tool in the national strategy, allowed solving important problems for families,” Vice Speaker of the State Duma Irina Yarovaya who supervises the Committee on Issues of Family, Women and Children claimed.
She stressed that legislative initiatives, for instance, in mortgage holidays or the bill on hot meals for junior schoolchildren adopted in the first reading are “already an important qualitative step. The task is to offer new solutions”. Yarovaya said that a week ago the legislative council considered the programme Decade of Childhood whose plan contains 131 measures, 74 of which are within the expertise of Russian regions.
“Analysis showed that 40 measures are some analytic research, while there must be a plan of actions. We will have to create a new plan of the decade next year: to raise the status — present the concept of family police, announce the tasks that will be then included in targeted financing. A decade is a long period, children grow up over this time. What qualitative changes should take place so that more children will be born, families will be well off,” Yarovaya asked regional representatives for specific proposals.
As the vice speaker of the State Duma said, 340,000 children are born out of wedlock, it is a very big number. In Yarovaya’s opinion, “the state’s effort must be targeted at strengthening the traditional family. It is necessary to create family capital in the future as a measure stimulating the traditional family in the long legal marriage with four children and more. The state should encourage such an important family institution”.
Yarovaya paid attention to the fact that the plans didn’t have an event that would be about family leisure time. She reminded representatives of the Ministry of Sport of family festivals with a “living and important sense”: “Mom, Dad, Me — We are a Sports Family”. The vice-speaker said about the legislative initiative in creating the format in which Russians would be informed about family supporting measures online. In her opinion, a dialogue with the youth should “form respect for family traditions”. She considers that the birth of children is women’s biggest privilege, and no girl should refuse this privilege when she grows up.
“Smart” land parcel allotment
Deputy of the Russian State Duma Olga Okuneva who supervises the project Close-Knit Family asked representatives of the Ministry of Construction why 21 regions didn’t have road maps to provide large families with land parcels.
Deputy Minister of Construction, Housing and Utilities of the Russian Federation Nikita Stasishin replied her that the problem was that not all municipalities could provide parcels “not anywhere, but smartly, in a right location, with roads and electricity”. He claimed that apart from infrastructure, the Ministry of Construction was dealing with the development of common individual housing projects that can be built with a mortgage if families participate in programmes. Stasishin said that with a cheap mortgage in the Far East people faced a problem — banks didn’t consider a land parcel as negotiable security. Together with the Bank of Russia and Dom.RF, the Ministry of Construction corrected the flaw and offered a product that allowed taking out a mortgage for individual housing projects. In 2008-2009, many families took out mortgages in a currency not to provide income certificates, and after 2014 they had to pay the same amount. The vice minister said that mortgage debts of large families who had had hardships were restructured if they submitted an application for it. In answer to the proposal for a loan for families to furnish the flat, Stasishin replied:
“Having granted a preferential mortgage, it is wrong to burden the family with a consumer loan. Houses that are built now are ready to move in and have even furniture, which is included in the price for a square metre. Banks also mention if there is a kitchen, dormitory, WC. It is more profitable to purchase a flat with furniture on a preferential loan.”
Not only support but also well-paid job is needed
Information of the Russian Statistics Service was mentioned at the hearings: 81% of the poor are families with children.
“Almost half of the large families are below the poverty line, and there is nothing to say more. The federal budget supports a family during the first three years after a baby is born. How are families with children who are older than three years supported? There is no support. The older the child, the higher the costs, children grow up. There is a mechanism of deduction from income tax, for instance, people with low income abroad. We should aspire for targeted family support,” auditor of the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation Sergey Shogrin stressed.
Representatives of regional ministries shared their experience. Vladimir Oblast provides additional support if a triplet is born; families who have lived together for 50, 60 and 70 years are paid respectively 50,000, 60,000 and 70,000 rubles. Representative of the movement Close-Knit Family Irina Yermakova from Perm shared how to help people who have children and were in a complicated situation, find their start-up.
Unfortunately, the amount of regional payouts given when children are born varies. There are problems with the mortgage programme — rural residents can’t enjoy the benefits because there aren’t new-build houses or, for instance, citizens of Murmansk — there are problems with new-build houses in the North. It was offered to fix the amount of compensation for preparing a child for school, introduce a subject on family values to the school programme. It was also said that it was necessary to recognise some categories of citizens who have many children or disabled children as employed, that single mothers or fathers should have advantages in the queue for the kindergarten. There was a proposal to create a fund to help children from single-parent families, while their parents refuse to pay alimonies, then find these dodgers and replenish the fund. There were given absurd examples when large families moved to a neighbouring municipality, not even another region, and lost benefits. Deputies disagreed that it was necessary to set the concept of a “large family” at the federal level. This law has been prepared for two years.
There were also complaints that children couldn’t go to competitions and events on school buses. There was asked permission to use maternity capital to repay the initial mortgage instalment. Representatives of the Republic of Sakha stood up for creating the programme Children of the Arctic given the climatic conditions, a rise in chronic diseases, a lack of vitamins. The Yakuts offered to have the issue on free sets for newborn babies to be resolved at the federal level. Olga Okuneva noted that the lawmakers had things to work on: mothers shouldn’t pay 13% of the tax for such a gift. In her opinion, the Russian Ministry of Finance must finance such sets.
According to the report of the Russian Ministry of Finance, now large families have unlimited mortgage subsidies for the whole term of the loan, moreover, they have a chance of reducing the debt by 450,000 rubles as people who are in difficult circumstances. 12,000 families got such a payment, the federal budget has allocated about 7 billion rubles for this measure this year, around 13,6 billion rubles are planned for 2020 and 30 billion in a year. Representatives of the Ministry of Finance recommended creating and fixing the structure of unified calculation of costs needed to support families with children to “consolidate not only federal money but also see how regions support families”.