The Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit of the Government of the Republic of Serbia presented to the professional public the applications Social Benefits Calculator and Material Support at the Local Level for Vulnerable Persons and Families, during a consultative online event held on 23 February 2021.
The Social Benefits Calculator aims to provide, taking into account the specifics of every individual household, a potential estimate of the amount of financial social assistance (a right defined under the Law on Social Welfare) and amount of child allowance (a right defined under the Law on Financial Support to Families with Children). The application Material Support at the Local Level for Vulnerable Persons and Families is intended to inform citizens about the types of material support (financial benefits and in-kind benefits) they have the right to in accordance with decisions on rights and services in the field of social welfare in the municipalities/towns they live in, and for the staff of institutions, civil society organisations, the research and academic community, and other stakeholders for whom the application may provide an overview of the system of material support regulated by decisions on rights and services in the field of social welfare at the local level in the Republic of Serbia.
The functionality of the two applications was presented during the event to more than 30 representatives of the republic and provincial institute for social welfare, as well as the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities (SCTM), allowing them the opportunity to provide a contribution to future development through their suggestions.
Dragana Jovanović Arijas, the Manager of the Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, noted that the initiative to develop these two instruments originated in the efforts to contribute to informing citizens on rights to material support that they have the right to under the social welfare system. “These instruments can also be useful for the process of monitoring, primarily for professionals at the national and local level, while the data contained in these instruments, along with data on their use, can be a relevant baseline for amendments to regulations at the national and local level”, explained Jovanović Arijas.
Marko Todosić, acting Director of the Republic Institute for Social Protection, expressed the expectation that these applications will contribute to informing citizens about their rights, but also facilitate the work of social welfare centres across the country.
According to Lidija Kuzmanov, the expert who participated in developing the Social Benefits Calculator, the application informs citizens on whether they have a certain right from the corps defined by the Law on Social Welfare and Law on Financial Support to Families with Children, and the amount of potential financial social assistance and child allowance relative to a given individual situation. “The calculator provides a calculation of the amount in regards to these two laws, and the application contains the contacts of all social work centres in Serbia in one place”, said Kuzmanov. The application contains an interactive questionnaire where the user enters the required data, and every question contains an explanation of the term in accordance with the laws.
As explained by Jovana Ilić, Coordinator for Gender Equality and Human Rights of the Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, the development of the application Material Support at the Local Level for Vulnerable Persons weas preceded by the collection of individual decisions regulating the right to secure social welfare at the local level, and an analysis of the collected documents, focusing on the types of material support, i.e. material benefits (financial or in-kind). “Within the 113 collected decisions by local self-government units 62 types of material support were found at the local level, i.e. 1,037 individual rights of citizens”, said Ilić, noting that the application is optimized for use on all devices, and that it can undergo changes in accordance with the actual situation and changes to decisions, as general legislative acts that regulate the system of material support in the field of social welfare at the local level. Therefore, all representatives of local self-government units are invited to submit newly adapted decisions regulating the social welfare system within their territory, including decisions on amendments to existing decisions. All necessary information and documents can be sent by local self-government representatives to the e-mail address of the Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit of the Government of the Republic of Serbia: firstname.lastname@example.org.