Social protection

The Government’s key objective in the social policy area will be to reduce poverty rates to below 16% by 2020. Measures intended to permanently lift people out of poverty will be introduced immediately and special attention will be dedicated to guaranteeing transparency of the system. 

The Government will establish a functional, citizen-friendly network of social protection institutions. Some authorities will be transferred to local self-government units as they are closer and better adjusting to citizen needs. The social protection network will include social support services and palliative care for the elderly, nursing, care and inclusion centers, centers for persons with disabilities, housing communities for persons with disabilities over 26 years of age, gender-based violence protection services and protection services for people in need, especially those in social risk. 

The Government will set up a system of 8 regional agencies for payment of material support in the social protection system. Additionally, we will introduce family social workers who will be close to the citizens and work on prevention and intervention. The number of families cared after by an individual social worker will be subjected to precise standards and norms in view of guaranteeing high-quality social protection, both for the citizens and social workers. 

The Government will settle the problem of former bankrupt firms’ employees and provide compensation packages for all employees with at least 15-year work experience (52 years of age in case of women and 55 years of age in case of men). 

The Government will propose cuts in executors’ fees and fees charged to socially deprived defaulters. Execution will be carried out without charging executor tariffs. All families with monthly revenues lower than the average calculated monthly wage will be exempt from paying the total amount of court tariffs and costs, which cannot reach more than 20% of the value of the dispute, while the interest cumulative cannot be higher than the principal. 

The Government’s social policy will incorporate the following measures and policies:
-    Introduce Minimum Adequate Revenue Program
-    Introduce a social debit card – Solidarity
-    Legal amendments in view of introducing tenure, instead of property, rights on social housing. Social flats will merge into collective housing managed by the local self-government. Right to tenure will be given to persons within the social protection system and low-income persons, as well as young couples and persons with disabilities who do not owe property. 
-    Opening of overnight shelters and food corners for homeless persons in cooperation with national and local non-for-profit organizations in all municipalities in need.

With regard to the pensions system, the Government will stabilize the Pension and Disability Insurance Fund, guaranteeing regular and sustainable payment of pensions. Reconciliation of pensions will be done twice a year and the Government will provide opportunities for early retirement, but up to maximum 5 years ahead of fulfilling the right to retirement by proportional downsizing of the retirement benefits.

The Government will propose the introduction of state social pensions for every person over 65 years of age residing on the territory of the Republic of Macedonia, not fulfilling the conditions for old-age benefits.

We will modernize health and palliative care services for old, feeble and ill persons in view of improving their accessibility and providing a high-quality response to outstanding needs of all men and women. The Government will subsidize accommodation in nursing homes for all low-earning pensioners, persons without family support or individual property.

The Government will initiate the establishment of pensioners’ communities and provide organized housing for the elderly in neighborhoods where housing will be provided under favorable costs, easily accessible medical and other services, provision of food produce under preferential cost.

The Government will support single-parent families by providing measures for flexible working hours and deration of certain public utility costs (taxes, public transportation, and kindergarten fees) for single-parent families earning less than the average monthly salary. We will create a State Fund for Child Support and Alimony payment. In case the parent fails or refuses to pay the alimony on time, the Fund will cover the arrears and subsequently charge the parent accordingly. This measure will guarantee timely payment of all alimony to children.
Additionally, we will offer local free-of-charge services to all low-income single-parent families in view of supporting their daily life and well-being.

The Government will introduce a separate program for individual support of children from families registered in the social protection system, low-income families, and families at increased risk. We will also set up a network of professional foster care families with regulated employment contracts with the State.

We will open small regional orphanages for children whose social risk prevents them from being put in foster care. Interventions and treatment will be directed towards building their skills and capacities through specific social inclusion methods.

The Government of the Republic of Macedonia will improve the social protection system of persons with disabilities in an inclusive and consultative process with non-governmental and professional organizations. It will include:
-    50% increase of funds made available to persons with disabilities by the end of the term
-    Full implementation of the Law on Social Protection and the provision for automatic transfer of right to special allowance for persons under 26 to right to assistance and care from an outsider
-    Persons using special allowance until 18 years of age will be eligible for the right to permanent financial assistance
-    AVRM’s funds from the special fund for employment of disabled persons will be spent in a transparent and public manner.
-    Reorganization of day-care centers for persons with disabilities. The Government will develop clearly defined standards for the groups, based on inclusion categories, age, and group size. New plans and programs for group activities in the Day Care Centers will be developed, based on program categories and areas. Professional staff standards and technical resources necessities will also be developed. 
-    Introduce legal guarantees for engagement of special educators for children with disabilities in every kindergarten or school in view of providing adequate support for children and their families.
-    Timely refund of pension and health insurance contributions
-    Respect employment quotas for persons with disabilities in the public administration, honoring the professional opinions issued by centers for social services calling for priority employment.
-    Medical teams will undertake home inspection visits for people who have been diagnosed and applied for mobility, blindness and hearing impairment allowance.
-    Granting the right to allowance to all people with severe and extreme intellectual impairment.
-    Setting up a system for assessment of special needs of children with disabilities (categorization) based on the International Classification of Functioning. The model will aim at functionally determining the specific characteristics of children with impairment, not according to their disability but their remaining abilities, i.e. their functioning profile and assessment.
-    Legal changes extending short working hours for parents of children with disabilities beyond 26 years of age.
-    Opening centers for early childhood development for babies and toddlers focused on skills and capacity building in children with certain form of impairment (cerebral palsy, autism, etc.)

The Government will finance opening of overnight shelters and food corners for homeless persons in cooperation with national and local non-for-profit organizations in all municipalities in need. Following the French model, we will draft a law enabling food donation by supermarkets, restaurants, producers and distributors.