In accordance with the Social Service Agency’s statistical data, the number of social assistance recipients has been decreasing monthly since June 2019. In October, 2,573 families (5,638 citizens) had their cash assistance stopped. In the last five months, 17,036 families (44,314 citizens) had their subsistence assistance stopped. FactCheck tried to find the reasons behind the stoppage of social assistance to these families.
As FactCheck learned, the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs has been carrying out an active planned verification of socially vulnerable families since June 2019. In the process of verification, families receiving subsistence assistance have this assistance revoked or temporarily stopped.
Graph 1: Number Families and People Receiving Subsistence Assistance in January-October 2019
Source: Social Service Agency
The number of recipients of subsistence assistance varies and either decreases or increases. Families which receive social assistance are constantly verified given their geographic, demographic or income changes. The changes in the methodology to assess the socio-economic conditions of socially vulnerable families stipulate a significant drop in the number of subsistence assistance recipients. These families are verified according to a new formula. At the same time, the visit of a social worker to a recipient family every four years is mandatory after being granted the socially vulnerable status. If a family’s status as socially vulnerable is left unchanged after the verification process, the cash assistance will be resumed alongside the periods during which the assistance was stopped.
A new methodology to assess the socio-economic conditions of socially vulnerable families was introduced in May 2015. As a result of the verification of families with this new methodology, the number of recipients of subsistence assistance has dropped significantly (see FactCheck’s article on this topic). Four years have now passed since the verification of families with the new methodology and the planned/mandatory verification process of socially vulnerable families has started again which resulted in a decrease in the number of assistance recipients.
The Deputy Minister of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs, Giorgi Tsotskolauri, in his interview with FactCheck confirmed that socially vulnerable families are being actively verified. Mr Tsotskolauri stated: “It is mandatory every four years to have a planned verification of families registered in the database of socially vulnerable people. This is to find out whether or not a family’s social status has changed. The verification cycle started from June-July and socially vulnerable families are being actively verified. Therefore, at the present moment, the number of families registered in the database is dropping but their subsistence assistance has not been revoked, it has been stopped. If after verification a family keeps its status of socially vulnerable, the assistance will be restored and they will receive compensation for the missing period.”
The family verification process is in progress and, therefore, the number of families in the database of socially vulnerable people will decrease further.