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On 6 December 2014, using FactCheck’s

 Check Your Fact service, our reader, Shota Nadirashvili, addressed us with a request to verify a statement made by Zurab Tchiaberashvili.

On 3 December, Zurab Tchiaberashvili, one of the United National Movement’s leaders, held a briefing concerning the new methodology of evaluating the households of socially vulnerable families. He said: “According to the new methodology, 106 thousand families will receive financial aid instead of 141 thousand. Only a small part of them will receive increased social aid. Others, or those who will not make it into the database, will only receive a reduced amount of GEL 30-40… This reform will affect the most vulnerable groups of society, especially single pensioners and pensioner couples who live alone and who have been suspended of their social aid.”

FactCheck

analysed the new methodology of evaluating the socio-economic condition of the country’s socially vulnerable families.

The state target social aid programme was enacted in 2006. In 2010, the Government of Georgia adopted Resolution № 93 approving the new methodology of evaluating the socio-economic conditions of socially vulnerable families. The formula for evaluating the socio-economic conditions consists of three main elements: family income, family property and family needs. After the family applies for the social aid programme, a social agent evaluates its income and property and assigns it a certain ranking point. Only families receiving less than 57,000 points on the ranking scale are granted financial aid.

In 2013, social aid was doubled for those below the poverty line. Prior to this, the first member of the social aid recipient family used to receive GEL 30 whilst every other member would receive GEL 24. Since 1 July 2013, social aid for the first family member has been GEL 60 and then GEL 48 for every other member of the family.

The Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia, with the support of UNICEF, started to work on the new methodology of evaluating the households of socially vulnerable families in September 2013.

On 2 December 2014, the Director of the Social Service Agency, Gaioz Talakvadze, introduced the new methodology to the Healthcare and Social Issues Committee of the Parliament of Georgia. According to the Director of the Social Service Agency, the main principle of the new methodology is that together with the actual income of the family, potentially income-generating property will be counted as well. The following variables of the old methodology have been abolished:  subjective evaluation of the social agent and domestic items, such as refrigerator, washing machine, stove, water heater, air conditioner, TV, video or digital camera, dishwashing machine, tobacco usage, toothpaste, etc.).

The ranking points are now being graded with a new formula. Each member of the family, whose ranking point does not exceed 30,000, will receive GEL 60, those between 30,000 and 57,000 – GEL 50, from 57,000 to 60,000 – GEL 40 and from 60,000 to 65,000 – GEL 30. Moreover, every socially vulnerable family that is below 100,000 ranking points will receive an additional GEL 10 for every child. The previous methodology did not include the additional amount for children. According to the new formula, 260 thousand children will receive the extra GEL 10.

According to the 2013 UNICEF report, 50,000 children in Georgia live in extreme poverty whilst 225,000 children live below the poverty line. Moreover, the children’s extreme poverty indicator exceeds the general population poverty indicator by 50%. Therefore, child poverty is still a problem in Georgia (see FactCheck’s article).

Especially for this reason, UNICEF recommended establishing the additional financial aid for children. However, it is debatable whether or not GEL 10 is enough for solving this problem.

Based upon the information presented to the Parliament of Georgia by the Social Service Agency, the number of families receiving financial aid is decreasing from 141,831 to 106,000 within the framework of the new methodology even though the number of the beneficiary population is increasing from 420,931 to 460,000. Considering this fact, it is logical to assume that the number of social aid recipient small families and single persons should shrink.

As of December 2014, 95,439 pensioners are receiving financial aid. We took interest in the number of pensioners who will receive social aid within the framework of the new methodology. According to the Social Service Agency, the new methodology is still being worked out and the information is not yet available.

Despite the number of the subsistence allowance recipients increasing by 39,069 people, the overall budget of the programme is not increasing. Within the framework of the old methodology, a minimum of GEL 22,697 and a maximum of GEL 24,938 used to be spent in a month. According to the new methodology, however, a minimum of GEL 21,200 and a maximum of GEL 22,500 will be spent excluding the addition for children. If we consider the addition for children as well, the gross budget would increase by GEL 600 thousand. Therefore, it is logical to assume that the majority of the socially vulnerable will receive a less amount of money.

According to the information provided by the Social Service Agency, the social aid recipient families and persons are allocated based upon the ranking point groups as follows:

Family Ranking Point Number of Families Number of Population
Less than 30,001 38,239 128,539
30,001 - 57,000 116,224 333,456
57,001 - 60,000 11,663 36,724
60,001 - 65,000 22,019 68,796
65,001 - 100,000 194,893 600,008

We took interest in the way in which the number of families and persons will be allocated based upon the ranking points within the framework of the new methodology. A letter received from the Social Service Agency explains that such information is unavailable at the moment.

Within the framework of the new methodology, the financial aid for the first member (or a single-member family) remains at GEL 60 for the families below 30,001 ranking points whilst the amount increases by GEL 12 for every other member. In addition, socially vulnerable families falling in the 57,001-60,000 and 60,001-65,000 categories will receive financial aid worth GEL 30 and GEL 40. Financial aid was not previously issued in this category within the framework of the old methodology. Financial aid worth GEL 10 for each child will be issued to those families ranking below 100,000 points on the scale.

Based upon the existing data, as the table above shows as well, the majority of social aid recipients fall within the 30,001-57,000 category by their ranking points. We analysed the amount of increase in social aid for this category. As a reminder, according to the old (that is, existing) methodology, the first member of the family receives GEL 60 and every other member receives GEL 48. The new methodology grants each family member GEL 50.

Number of Family Members Amount by Old (Existing) Methodology Amount by New Methodology Reduced Amount Increased Amount
1 60 50 GEL 10
2 108 100 GEL 8
3 156 150 GEL 6
4 204 200 GEL 4
5 252 250 GEL 2
6 300 300 0 0
7 348 350 GEL 2

According to the statistical data provided by the Social Service Agency, the majority of social aid recipients; that is, 71,500 families, consist of one or two members. Approximately 89% of socially vulnerable families include from one to five members. Therefore, the majority of the socially vulnerable families in the 30,001-57,000 category will receive GEL 2-10 less every month.

Conclusion

Within the framework of the new methodology of evaluating the socio-economic condition of socially vulnerable families, those families ranking below 100,000 points on the ranking scale will receive an additional GEL 10 for each child. The old (existing) methodology did not include the addition for children. It is noteworthy that families falling in the 57,001-60,000 and 60,001-65,000 categories will receive financial aid (GEL 30 and GEL 40) as well. The old methodology did not foresee financial aid for this category.

Within the framework of the new methodology, the number of financial aid recipients is decreasing by 35,831; however, the number of the beneficiary population is increasing by 39,069, indicating that the number of small and single-member families is decreasing. In addition, even though the number of subsistence allowance recipients is increasing, the gross budget of the programme (exceeding the addition per child) does not increase. Therefore, a major part of those socially vulnerable will receive a less amount of social aid within the new methodology.

According to the current statistics, most of the socially vulnerable fall in the 30,001-57,000 ranking point category. The families that fall in this category and include from one to five members will receive from GEL 2 to GEL 10 less per month as social aid.

As the Social Service Agency explained, the new methodology of evaluating the households of socially vulnerable families is still being developed. For this reason, the Agency was unable to provide us with certain information concerning the new methodology (allocation of the socially vulnerable families/persons by ranking points and the change in the number of socially vulnerable pensioners). Therefore, it is impossible to fully verify the facts in Zurab Tchiaberashvili’s statement at this stage. However, our research points out that the context of his statement is true.

FactCheck leaves the statement of Mr Tchiaberashvili concerning the new methodology of evaluating the households of socially vulnerable families WITHOUT VERDICT.

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