The FINANCIAL — Ana is thirty-two years old. She is a single mother of three young children. Due to health problems as a result of a chronic illness she is unable to work and has virtually no income to support herself and her children.
Thus, Ana and her three children receive social support from the state on a monthly basis, amounting to GEL 340 (USD 102.60). Before Covid-19, her social support amounted to GEL 240 (USD 72.40). Her family of four receives this support from the Government, while in Georgia one loaf of bread costs GEL 1 (USD 0.30), one kilo of cheese GEL 14 (USD 4.20) and one kilo of meat GEL 23 (USD 7).
The Georgian Social Service Agency said that they had no information on how such low social benefit amounts were initially established and referred The FINANCIAL to the government’s hotline, which said the same thing.
In addition, Ana has a chronic disease, the treatment of which is associated with certain regular outlays – her treatment costs at least GEL 90-100 (USD 27.15-30.20) per month, which is not covered by her health insurance. Two of Ana’s three children go to school. Due to the pandemic they have been continuing their studies online. They have neither enough space at home nor enough equipment to fully participate in online lessons and receive an education. She is sometimes helped by neighbours or relatives due to her financial problems.
The social support they receive is so minimal that they cannot even meet the basic necessities of life, such as food, normal living conditions, healthcare (including the purchase of various medicines), and providing secondary education for the children.
Financial support received by socially vulnerable families in Georgia has reached a critical level due to the rising rate of inflation. Poverty now is the number one problem according to the residents The FINANCIAL interviewed.
The amounts cited by the article’s respondents as the state support they receive are in light of the Covid pandemic, therefore taking into consideration the extra GEL 600 (USD 182) for six months they have recently been receiving, their state support would otherwise be even less.
One of the respondents to The FINANCIAL was Tamar, who was left with two young grandchildren after their parents died. Tamar is a pensioner so does not work, and her family source of income is her pension and the social support the children receive from the state. Tamar receives GEL 220 (USD 66.40) from the state as a pension and social support to the amount of GEL 305 (USD 92). Before Covid-19, her social support amounted to only GEL 205 (USD 61.80).
After the death of her grandchildren’s parents, for a long time (for unknown reasons) she was not approved for social support, and several times she was even stopped from applying, after which she had to go through all the procedures again. Additionally, because of instances of help given by relatives or neighbours, such as support with household items or money, whenever a social services agent noticed a new item or slightly better living conditions upon their visits, they would cut off their social support, said Tamar in an interview with The FINANCIAL.
Their monthly income is a very small amount, especially considering that Tamar has health problems and has to spend a lot of money regularly on medicines. Tamar needs GEL 120 (USD 36.20) to GEL 140 (USD 42.20) a month for medicines, which is a very large amount, bearing in mind that insurance does not cover the medicines prescribed for chronic diseases.
The family has the right to claim a subsistence allowance. The subsistence allowance is allocated to all those families whose rating score is lower than the amount provided by law, which serves to improve the socio-economic situation of poor families, according to The Social Service Agency of the Ministry of Health.
Each family will be given a rating point, the amount of which determines the family’s right to some kind of benefit, cash social support, and more.
Due to the Covid pandemic and economic crisis in Georgia, the Government has provided various additional support for socially vulnerable people. Those families with 100,000 rating points registered in the database of socially vulnerable families, who have a child of three or more under the age of sixteen, will, in addition to the monthly support for children, be provided with an extra GEL 100 (USD 30.20) by the state.
Also, for people with severe disabilities, as well as children with disabilities under the age of eighteen, in addition to the support specified in the social package for these individuals, an extra GEL 100 (USD 30.20) will be provided each month.
Compensation packages for people with disabilities, including families with rating points of 65,000 to 100,000 and 100,000 rating points for large families can be received simultaneously. E.g. If the rating score of a family of six is 80,000, you have three children under the age of sixteen and at the same time one member of the family is a severely disabled person or child with disabilities, then such a family will receive all three benefits and that total family’s compensation package would be GEL 2,460 (USD 742), meaning a total monthly amount of GEL 410 (USD 124).
Receipt of compensation packages for persons with disabilities, for families from 65,001 to 100,000 rating points and 100,000 rating points for families with many children does not limit the possibility of receiving one of the additional benefits – tax relief; hired employee or self-employed person.
For families from 65,000 to 100,000 on the socially vulnerable score, the compensation amount for each family member is GEL 35 (USD 10.60) per month and it will be registered according to the number of family members, as illustrated below:
For a family consisting of one member – GEL 70 (USD 21.10) per month;
For a family of two members – GEL 90 (USD 27.15);
For a family of three members – GEL 105 (USD 31.70);
For a family of four members – GEL 140 (USD 42.20);
For a family of five members – GEL 175 (USD 52.80);
For a family of six members – GEL 210 (USD 63.40);
For a family of seven members – GEL 245 (USD 73.90);
For a family of eight members – GEL 280 (USD 84.50);
For a family of nine members – GEL 315 (USD 95);
For a family of ten members – GEL 350 (USD 105.60);
For a family of eleven members – GEL 385 (USD 116);
For a family of twelve members – GEL 420 (USD 127);
For a family of thirteen members – GEL 455 (USD 137);
For a family of fourteen members – GEL 490 (USD 148);
For a family of fifteen members – GEL 525 (USD 158).