The work to strengthen the family is happening on both fronts: the church spiritually instructs, nourishes and supports families, and the government implements policies that make creating families economically viable and perhaps even beneficial
The magnitude of attention that the question of how to support the family unit is receiving in Russia today is truly impressive.
On this question, the Church and the government’s goals coincide: the government needs a population increase whereas the church wants the Christian families to raise Russians to be morally and spiritually upright Christians.
Thus, the work to strengthen the family is happening on both fronts: the church spiritually instructs, nourishes and supports families, and the government aims to implement policies that make creating families economically viable and perhaps even beneficial
As 2018 approaches, beginning a decade that Putin has designated 'Decade of Childhood,' there is a flurry of political activity around this topic and much exciting news daily, naturally ignored by the Western media amid its anti-Russian hysteria.
A few days ago, Putin launched a program aimed at improving the population slump. Here are some points (the full transcript is provided below video):
- Starting from the next year, after the birth of their first child, Russians will receive an average of 10,000 rubles per month.
- Those with two or three children will be able to file for a preferential mortgage
- The maternity capital program will be extended until 2021. I
- The number of regions, where large families receive special allowances will increase, there will be no queuing for nursery groups, the state will modernize children's clinics.
First, let's talk about the President's most important demographic initiative. It has 6 key points.
Starting from the next year, after the birth of their first child, Russians will receive an average of 10,000 rubles per month. Those with two or three children will be able to file for a preferential mortgage, the maternity capital program will be extended until 2021. In addition, the number of regions, where large families receive special allowances will increase, there will be no queuing for nursery groups, the state will modernize children's clinics.
And all this is very timely. Otherwise, sociologists warn that in 2025 Russia might suffer a double demographic hole. Since the Great Patriotic War, when the birth rate plummeted, such holes occur every 25 years. In addition, children of the 1990s are now entering the reproductive age, a fairly small generation due to the economic problems of the time.
Alexander Balitsky reports.
8-year-old Ibrahim is walking on his hands right on the Kremlin parquet with childish spontaneity. The best families of the country who won the Family of the Year contest in various nominations are waiting for the president. The Gakievs from Ingushetia share their main family motto.
A child of Gakiev’s family: “We're always told by our parents to study, work and fight.”
All the rest is taken up by the parents. What the state can do to support families was being discussed in the next hall, while the laureates of the competition admired St. George Hall's golden interior. The National Children’s Strategy, developed five years ago at the President's order, is to bring the principle of "Children and Youth First" into Russian public life.
President Putin: “Much has been achieved in this respect and the birth rate has started growing. Having two children in a family has become a stable trend. The infant death rate has decreased, primarily owing to the established system of perinatal centers. We have managed to achieve natural population growth, which nobody hoped for, but which has taken place. Despite this, the demographic situation is declining again, mostly for objective reasons”.
Putin says it's all due to the echo of the 90s. Special state projects saved the situation: from Maternity Capital to special housing programs for young families. But Putin still believes that the demographic policy needs a reboot. He set forth 6 points that should give families with children even more confidence.
President Putin: "The first is to introduce a monthly allowance to be paid from the first child’s birth until the child is 18 months old".
The allowance will be based on the child subsistence expenses in a respective region. Depending on the region, it will amount to an average of 10,523 rubles in 2018, 10,836 rubles in 2019 and 11,143 rubles in 2020. The allowance will be a targeted measure subject to the family’s income. I believe it would be fair to first support those who are really in need. The allowance will be given to those families where the income is under 1,5 living wages per person. More than 140 billion rubles are allocated to the fund in the three-year budget. The option to use Maternity Capital will be targeted as well. Another important detail is that Putin proposed to extend the program.
President Putin: "I constantly get the question – and, I think, many of you do too – about what happens next. I propose extending the Maternity Capital program through December 31, 2021. Moreover, I am proposing additional ways in which the money can be used. Specifically, Maternity Capital may be also paid out as a monthly allowance to families who are in great need. The same targeted approach will apply to the first-child allowance. In addition, it will be possible to use Maternity Capital to pay for preschool education services after the child turns two months old. It can be used for child care and supervision. I know that this measure is in very high demand. For example, a mother can then continue to work or study after the baby is born".
In January, the number of regions that receive subsidies from the federal budget to pay out benefits for having a third child will rise from 50 to 60. And in all regions, a new mortgage program is being launched for those having a second or third child. The state will help these people pay back loans.
President Putin: "I suggest launching a special mortgage program. Families that have a second or third child after January 1, 2018, will be eligible. When buying housing on the primary market or refinancing mortgages taken out earlier, families will be able to rely on state subsidies on annual interest rates above six percent. Let me explain. For instance, according to the Bank of Russia, the weighted mortgage average amounts to 10.05%. In other words, in this case, the state pays more than four percent of the interest rate. According to the Ministry of Construction, this program may cover over 500,000 families in the next five years".
The problem with kindergartens in the country is mostly solved. Now the President has set the task of eliminating queues in the nursery as a priority. 326 thousand applications from parents are currently pending. So, in two years time, there should be no more nursery vacancies. And the speaker of the Federation Council said that schools should also be taken into account. In some schools, children have to study in shifts. More schools need to be built to rectify the situation.
Valentina Matviyenko, chairman of the Federation Council RF: "We need to add money to this program as 25 billion a year isn't enough. First of all, we need to deal with the problem of having three student shifts and solve it. So, if this is possible, allocate at least another 25 billion, even more if you can Mr. President".
Modern perinatal centers are now open in Russia’s regions. They have new equipment and highly qualified doctors. Children's clinics must become the same.
President Putin: "The condition of most children's polyclinics, well, their equipment leaves much to be desired. There is a problem with queues, and with making appointments to necessary specialists. This situation also serves as a deterrent to the decision to give birth to children. On the whole, it must be improved. It is obvious that the regions can perform these tasks by themselves. Therefore the main part of this sum, 10 billion rubles a year, will be provided by the federal budget in the next 3 years”.
Healthcare, education, upbringing... Almost all these issues were raised at the Council today. Senator Elena Mizulina brought up juvenile justice. A popular topic in the West, which often gets overzealous in its enforcement of it.
Senator Elena Mizulina: ”Last week a young family addressed me. They were walking in a park in Moscow. The child was riding a bicycle, fell, broke his lip, his parents were scared as there was a lot of blood. They called an ambulance. Everything was fine. On Monday they were summoned to the investigator to check if it was a case of domestic violence, which can last for up to a month. Infringement on the interests of parents is unacceptable. We have our own traditions, the traditions of a solid family. And this impudent interference in family life is unacceptable”.
Summing up the results of this big talk, Putin reiterated that it was about the future of the country. The comprehensive support measures will continue. So it won’t end up being the Year, but the Decade of Childhood. The winners of the Russian families' contest didn't know about this news, which directly affected them up to the point when the President came to congratulate them.
President Putin: “I propose to start drinking tea after all, because, as far as I can see, the sweets look appetizing. The children are looking at them and thinking: "Can we start eating?" Yes, let's start”.
But Putin once again explained everything. A couple from Sevastopol immediately drew conclusions.
Parents of a large family from Sevastopol: “I think next year we will have some good news for you”.
President Putin: “Excellent. The talent of people who manage to overcome difficulties if not easily, but relying on bonds they have for one another, is invaluable. You’ve managed to create an atmosphere of warmth, kindness and mutual support”.
Anna Kuznetsova, the authorized agent for children's rights: ”Russia is built up on strong families. Today, having gathered families from different parts of Russia at the same table, we have in fact gathered all of Russia at the same table”.
The President asked those who attended this largely informal meeting to offer their amendments to the Decade of Childhood program. He also asked the MPs to fund today's demographic initiative from the budget reserves, but not at the expense of other social care.
Alexander Balitsky, Natalya Lundovskaya, Alexander Berezhnoy, Alexander Antonov for Vesti.