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Press Release for April 28, 2019 Media Briefing by the Shanghai Municipal People’s Government

April 29, 2019

The Information Office of Shanghai Municipality held a press conference on April 28. Zhu Qinhao, director of the Municipal Civil Affairs Bureau, introduced "Regulations for Shanghai Social Assistance," which will be formally implemented on May 1. Li Yong, deputy director of the bureau, also attended the conference and jointly answered questions from reporters.

"Regulations for Shanghai Social Assistance" (hereinafter referred to as the "Regulations") is an important livelihood policy implemented by the city, which focuses on poverty eradication, special groups, public concerns and will help the local government better fulfill its responsibilities of offering basic livelihood security, grassroots social governance and basic social services.

The implementation of the Regulations will also be an important legal guarantee for Shanghai to strengthen its legal assistance in line with its status as a megacity, to fully embody the superiority of the socialist system, and to build a better-off society in an all-round way.

The "Regulations" will ensure the basic livelihood of the local residents and further enable the needy people not to suffer from hunger and cold, disasters, serious illness, housing and unemployment, thus satisfying their yearning for a better life. At the same time, it will also be conducive to consolidating Shanghai's practical experience in the field of social assistance, solving existing problems and effectively ensuring the basic life of the disadvantaged groups.

Social assistance is a basic institutional arrangement that aims to protect people's livelihood, meet their basic life needs, help the needy and promote fairness. The Constitution of the People's Republic of China clearly stipulates: "Citizens have the right to receive material assistance from the state and society in the event of old age, illness or loss of working ability." Under the leadership of the municipal Party Committee and the municipal government, Shanghai has always attached great importance to social assistance work and took the lead in establishing a minimum living guarantee system for urban residents in 1993.

In recent years, Shanghai has actively implemented the Interim Measures for Social Assistance released by the State Council, and it has formulated a "9+1" social assistance mechanism based on the city's actual conditions. It is a mechanism with the fundamentals of covering people with minimum social protection, the complements of assistance for families of huge necessary expenditure, people suffering from disasters and those need temporary aid. It is facilitated by targeted relief of medical aid, education aid, housing aid and job aid, and fully involves social forces to basically realize the goal of a wide coverage in city and rural areas and a standardized procedure. People in difficulties should be largely covered and the quality of assistance should be improved step by step.

The Regulations, which will take effect soon, is based on the actual conditions to satisfy the needs of today on one hand. On the other hand, it is prospective and can serve as a guide for laws that are fundamental, accurate and systemic. It is a standard with Shanghai characteristics.

First, the "Regulations" sticks to the fundamentals. It clarifies six categories of targeted people to make it clear of "to help whom." (ps. the six categories are families with income below the local minimum living standard, low-income families in difficulty, poor families with high expenditure, people in extreme poverty, people affected by natural disasters and people in need of temporary aid.)

Compared with national rules, the "Regulations" expands the coverage of social assistance to include families with low income and families with huge necessary expenditure. Also, to address the complexity in providing temporary aid, the "Regulations" allows government at district levels to determine the targeted people for help based on actual conditions.

Second, the "Regulations" sticks to the principle of classified relief, making it clear of the contents of each program to address the issue of "how to aid."

1. For "families with income below the local minimum living standard," the city offers the guaranteed financial support in accordance with the difference between the average per capita disposable income of the family members living together in this city and the standard of minimum living security funds. Also, special assistance in education, medical care, housing and employment will also be provided according to the needs of the family. At the same time, the level of assistance for the elderly, minors, the severely disabled and the seriously ill in low-income families shall be raised through measures such as the distribution of in-kind items or the additional subsistence allowances. For instance, since the 1990s, the city has implemented a "grain and oil poverty alleviation system" to help needy preschool children and primary and middle-school students from low-income families, the seriously ill patients, the severely disabled and unemployed, and the elderly over the age of 60, providing them with oil, rice and sugar for their daily needs. Another example is, since 2018, Shanghai has raised the minimum living standard for minors under the age of 16 by 30 percent, taking into account the educational and nutritional needs of minors.

2. For "low-income families in difficulty," authorities will provide special assistance to solve their difficulties in medical care, education, Housing and employment.

3. For "poor families with high expenditure" (Note: In order to solve the family difficulties caused by the excessive rigid inflexible expenditure on health care and education, and especially to alleviate the problem of poverty caused by illness, Shanghai initiated the expenditure-based assistance for poor families.) Basic living assistance shall be given to families whose per capita expenditure on medical and educational expenses is too high, resulting in the average family disposable income below the subsistence standard; Corresponding special assistance shall be given to families with special difficulties in medical care and housing.

4. In addition, the "Regulations" also clearly regulates how to provide assistance to "people in extreme poverty,""those affected by natural disasters" and "people in need of temporary aid," as well as the contents of special assistance in medical care, education, housing and employment.

5.Particularly, the "Regulations" makes it clear that if all members from households receiving subsistence allowance are unemployed but able to work, targeted measures should be taken to ensure that one of them gets employed. The regulations at the same time emphasize measures to encourage employment and accordingly specify the interactive mechanism between employment and social assistance.

Third, the "Regulations" insists on accurate identification and refined management, promoting social assistance to be fairer.

1. Shanghai specially discriminates different kinds of groups receiving subsistence allowance based on the economic situation or actual difficulties of needy families and gives them allowance accordingly. Therefore, the "Regulations" emphasizes the investigation and verification of the economic situation of applicants' family, especially the verification.

To accurately help the neediest groups, the city began to verify its citizens' economic situation since 2006.

Verification reports are formed by information exchange and integrative analysis between relevant departments and organizations through information system, providing basis for the approval of social assistance. At present, the verification system has established thirty-two electronic comparison lines between different departments, which have been gradually applied to fifteen projects including urban and rural subsistence allowances, destitute population’s support, subsistence allowance for poverty caused by disease, medical assistance, education assistance and temporary assistance. Up to now, the economic situation of more than 2.67 million households have been verified, among which 367,000 households willingly withdraw from the application due to ineligibility, cutting down almost fiscal expenditure of 3.53 billion yuan, becoming a ruler for the fair allocation of public resources and the scientific implementation of social policies access mechanism.

2. Social assistance is not a lifelong right. It should be dynamically managed on the basis of actual changes of the population, income, and property of the difficult family. It means that, it must have a reasonable "exit mechanism," which is also important to ensure fairness and justice of social assistance. To this end, the "Regulations" clearly stipulate the withdrawal mechanism of social assistance.

Fourth, the "Regulations" insists on delegating administrative power and specifying the duties of towns.

Shanghai is a megalopolis. Its years practice has proved that grassroots units are closer to the masses, and it is possible to discover in time and to dynamically grasp the living conditions of the people in difficulty, and more conducive to responding to the needs of the people in a timely and convenient manner. Therefore, the "Regulations" further clarified the duties of the town, involving policy propaganda, object discovery, application acceptance, investigation and verification, audit confirmation, dynamic management and other aspects related to social assistance. In this way, it is not only closer to the needs of the masses, but also can save administrative costs and improve the work efficiency. It is also in line with the requirements of the state and the city for decentralization and delegating the administrative power.

Fifth, the "Regulations" adheres to ensure the convenience of the people and the interests of the people, and optimizes the process of social assistance work.

In 2018, to get in accordance with the development orientation of the megalopolis, the city actively responded to problems of the rescue targets, such as "separation of people and households," and included social assistance projects in "the city's general office," so that "data runs more and the masses run fewer errands."

The "Regulations" has integrated and optimized the application and review process of social assistance matters.

Except education assistance, assistance to natural disaster victims, and wandering people and beggars, other rescue matters can be handled online or through the community service agencies. Once the application is submitted, it can be transferred through information exchange platform to the street or social assistance management department with corresponding authority for review and confirmation, which will further facilitate the needy people.

Sixth, the "Regulations" vows to have the government play a leading role with social forces being encouraged to take part in the social assistance work.

"When one person is in trouble, more will extend their helping hands," not only well explains Shanghai's distinctive mode of recruiting various social forces to provide social assistance for the needy, but also represents the spirits of the city and its charity culture. After years of development, Shanghai has built a rather strong network of social forces as well as a very sophisticated charity environment. As the regulations have clarified this time, social forces including enterprises, government-sponsored institutions, social organizations and volunteers should be further encouraged and supported to play a complementary role in the government's social assistance work, as that will offer room for further improvement in areas such as better collecting and optimizing social resources, enriching the supply of social assistance services and satisfying the various demands of the people receiving assistance.

In the next step, the city's civil affairs bureau will focus on three areas to ensure the efficient implementation of the "Regulations:"

First is to launch wide publicity campaigns about the “Regulations” so as to build a friendly social environment where there is enough public awareness towards the groups in need and access to seeking help is available for everyone in need. For instance, the local civil affairs department is trying to combine the grass-roots social assistance work with the “Community Wellbeing Consultancy System” which has already been implemented around the city, and will launch trials in Changning District to establish a “Community Assistance Consultancy System” that aims to help people in need to find assistance policies suitable to themselves.

Second is to start application trainings for the "Regulations" in a wide scale. In particular, close attention should be paid to front-line, sub-district personnel who should be well armed with social assistance-related laws and regulations.

Third is to refer to the "Regulations" as a benchmark to further improve the social assistance policies in Shanghai and work out and release a few normative documents covering "verification and affirmation of qualification for social assistance,""definition of extravagant consumption," and "punishment for violations of social assistance laws and regulations," optimize and adjust the mechanism of social assistance work and raise the service quality of social assistance management.