State social aid to amount to Br1000 (50c) only

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The European Radio for Belarus explores who will be entitled to the assistance from the government and what the procedure will look like. It turns out that only those whose average monthly income does not exceed Br185,670 ($60) are able to apply for this aid. But don’t count on huge amounts of money. If you are missing just Br1000 from the sum mentioned above, that’s exactly what you will get from the state.

In other words, the state assistance is designed to fill the gap between a low income and the minimum living wage. But various certificates from the local housing authorities (Br3500) can cost you several times more than the state assistance.

Valyantsina Syarheeva, the chief of social assistance department at the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, told the European Radio for Belarus that some paperwork needs to be filed before a relevant commission takes a decision.

“People need to approach employment and social security departments at the local level. If an applicant comes with a full package of documents that prove the income and the number of family members, the commission will decide within five days since the day of application. Applicants will be notified about the decision within three days. Payments will be available immediately upon the official notice”.

This ERB reporter attempted to apply for the state assistance and approached the social security department at Minsk’s Central District administration. My story about myself and my husband being fully employed but being unable to make it the basic living wage surprised the official, who could not believe it was true. Afterwards, she suggested that we bring all the necessary paperwork in order to apply.

After we heard a long list of documents, we asked how much this red tape could be. It turned out that the state would be generous and could even help you with Br1000 (50c).

“The government will cover the difference between your income and the minimum living wage. If your income is for example Br184,000, the government will pay slightly more than Br1000 per each member of your family on a monthly basis”.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Security assured us that there should not be too much paperwork and that all the documents should be issued for free. This assistance would be provided for six months.

The ministry does not describe the situation when a low-income family struggles to pay for children’s education as a complex one. It means that those students who pay for their education should not pin any hopes on this assistance.

“This is absolutely right. The family is not entitled. You know, if a family covers education for their child, it means they have the money. The targeted social assistance is simply about providing a piece of bread”.

The Ministry of Statistics told the European Radio for Belarus that as of the third quarter of 2007 there were 10 percent of the population whose income was less than Br185,670. It means that one in ten Belarusians lives below the poverty line. At the same time, salaries have grown with the speed of the wind, now an average of Br756,537 ($360).