Targeted poverty alleviation

  "China News Weekly" reporter/Xu Dawei

  Issued at 2020.12.7, Issue 975 of "China News Weekly"

  "Our current poverty incidence is 0." said Zuo Yu, the first secretary of Baduo Village, Guangnan County, Wenshan Prefecture, Yunnan Province.

  But what worries him is that once a villager is suddenly seriously ill, it may drag the family that has just escaped from poverty into desperation again.

Such predicaments often occur. One farmer has a family of 7 people who fell into poverty because the main labor force of the family suddenly suffered from cancer.

Zuo Yu told China News Weekly that such emergencies in the village are the most "fatal".

Because of the large family population, the drugs for some major diseases are often not in the medical insurance list, which causes a large amount of rigid expenditure in the short term, and the huge amount of medical expenditure can instantly crush a family.

  Baduo Village is located in the mid-levels and has always been a deeply impoverished area.

The village has 151 registered households and 674 poor population.

Baduo Village was “out of poverty” at the end of 2019. At that time, the poverty incidence in the village was 0.31%, and there were 3 households with 11 people who were not out of poverty.

Zuo Yu told China News Weekly that the three households who failed to get out of poverty were all “on the Internet” due to major illnesses or major family changes, and were identified as stall holders.

  Usually in a country’s anti-poverty road, social security policies are considered to have a prominent role in poverty reduction, while social assistance is considered a safety net to cover poverty.

As of the end of 2019, a total of 8.61 million people in China enjoy the urban minimum living guarantee, and 34.56 million people enjoy the rural minimum living guarantee.

China has also become the country with the fastest development of social security, the widest coverage of the population, and the largest continuous increase in security in the world today.

  Under the anti-poverty strategy, China's social security system has undergone many rounds of changes, from a supplementary assistance system to a moderately universal welfare system, from a single government assistance to a government social combination assistance, and a mechanism based on precise identification has been realized. Accurate protection of the bottom line.

Lei Ming, dean of the Institute for Development of Poor Areas at Peking University, believes that China is still in the stage of building a moderately inclusive welfare system.

With the achievement of China's strategic goal of eliminating absolute poverty in 2020, China's social security system will also usher in a new path of evolution.

"The Last Safety Net"

  China's current urban and rural social security system was established in the 1990s. It was initially to establish a minimum living security system in cities. The relief targets were mainly urban poor residents, mainly to ensure basic survival and implement poverty relief.

In rural areas, it mainly relies on the rural five-guarantee system and rural poverty alleviation development work to promote rural social assistance.

  Since 1995, China has formulated a regional anti-poverty strategy focusing on poverty-stricken counties and established a mechanism for the “National Key Poverty Alleviation Counties”. The government has begun to implement planned, organized and large-scale poverty alleviation work.

However, the rural social endowment insurance system stagnated for a while, and the cooperative medical system based on agricultural cooperatives even slipped.

  Cooperative medical care used to be one of China's three major medical security systems alongside public medical care and labor insurance medical care in cities and towns.

In the 1970s, its coverage reached 90% of the administrative villages (production brigades) nationwide.

"Cooperative medical care", together with the cooperative's "health stations" and a huge number of "barefoot doctors", has become the "three major issues" for Chinese farmers to seek medical treatment.

  The root cause of the stagnation and landslide is the disintegration of the old system.

Chen Qiulin, director of the Social Security Research Office of the Institute of Population and Labor Economics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told China News Weekly that with the reform of the corporate system and rural economic system, the original labor insurance system, cooperative medical system and other traditional security systems no longer have economic foundations. , So forced to carry out social transformation.

  "In fact, it is to engage in social medical insurance and social pension insurance." Chen Qiulin said.

This means that China's social security system has actually become a package of economic reforms.

And the social security system that basically relies on wages, as the income gap widens, the protection gap is also widening.

  In 2000, China's rural poor population fell from 250 million in 1978 to 32.09 million. However, in areas such as medical security, there has been obvious unfairness, and rural areas have almost no security.

That year, the World Health Organization conducted performance evaluations on the health systems of 191 member states.

In terms of the fairness of health burdens, China is ranked 188th, that is, fourth from the bottom, and is the most unfair country in the world.

  Since then, China has tried to solve the problem of "one leg is long for economic construction, and one leg is short for social construction".

And to promote the construction of the social security system is intended to "make up for shortcomings."

Chen Qiulin believes that, compared with the economic reform, the construction of the social security system at this stage is an important part of social construction, has become one of the themes of reform and development, and has become an independent development task.

Taking the “Interim Measures for Social Assistance” promulgated by the State Council in 2014 as an example, social assistance has changed from the original temporary and special assistance model to a regular and universal assistance model.

  As poverty alleviation entered a critical period, the Central Poverty Alleviation Work Conference in November 2015 decided to implement the "five batches" project.

Among them, for the poor who have completely or partly lost the ability to work, social security is used to achieve poverty alleviation.

China's social security system includes multiple elements such as social assistance, social insurance, social welfare, special care placement, and charity.

In targeted poverty alleviation, social assistance, social insurance and social welfare are the "troika" for implementing social security and protecting people's livelihood.

  A major feature of China's anti-poverty social security aspect is "covering the bottom line."

As a comprehensive guarantee policy, the minimum living guarantee system is related to the basic livelihoods of tens of millions of rural poor in China, and is called the "last safety net".

According to data from the Ministry of Civil Affairs, at present, a total of 20,400,000 impoverished people in China who have registered and registered are included in the scope of assistance and support for the subsistence allowance or the extremely poor.

  Lei Ming believes that "covering the bottom line" is a bottom line that shows the ultimate effect of poverty alleviation.

In the design and implementation of this system, the "bottom" is "two no worries and three guarantees", that is, no worries about food, no worries about clothing, compulsory education, basic medical care, and housing safety are guaranteed.

This huge net bag can be divided into three types of poverty targets. One is families with complete loss of labor, one is families with weak laborers with partial labor, and the other is poor families with expenditure.

  In fact, China has a huge number of poor people with “two nos” who are “incapable of getting rid of poverty and have no jobs to support”.

For these "unsupportable poverty", can we only rely on social security to cover it?

Lei Ming believes that this "bottom net" can not only support the poor, but also prevent the poor from "breaking the net". The key lies in accurate object identification and the formulation of accurate guarantee standards.

Accurate bottom

  Like poverty identification, the prerequisite for the establishment of an effective protection system is still to accurately identify the protection objects.

  The first thing that needs to be solved is the issue of guarantee standards.

As an important coordinate system for accurately identifying poverty, China's poverty standards have undergone multiple rounds of evolution.

The minimum living guarantee line, which is also a prerequisite for precise protection, has previously been below the poverty line for a long time.

  Generally speaking, a poverty standard is usually referred to for the minimum guarantee.

There are two official poverty lines in China. One is the National Poverty Alleviation Line issued by the National Bureau of Statistics, which is based on the absolute poverty line calculated after the annual farmers’ per capita income is announced in March each year.

In principle, the poverty-stricken population in China’s rural areas is determined in accordance with the national poverty line standards.

The formulation of the subsistence allowance standard is the jurisdiction of the local government, and the higher-level government only collects statistics.

Local governments formulate minimum living standards, which are determined by provincial and municipal governments in accordance with the necessary expenses for food, clothing, water, and electricity to maintain the basic life of local rural residents throughout the year.

In 2015, 16 of the 31 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities) in the country had an average rural minimum living standard of 2,855 yuan below the national poverty line, and they were mainly distributed in the central and western regions.

  Guan Xinping, a member of the Expert Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Civil Affairs and a professor at Nankai University, told China News Weekly that it is impossible to find a low standard of subsistence allowances. If you want to do so, you must at least meet the poverty alleviation standards.

In recent years, the standards of the rural subsistence allowances in all provinces have generally increased.

Take Yunnan Province as an example. From 2018 to 2020, the rural minimum living standards in Yunnan will implement annual dynamic adjustments to ensure that they are not lower than the national poverty alleviation standards.

Up to now, the minimum guarantee standard in rural Yunnan has been raised to 4,500 yuan per person per year, which is higher than the poverty alleviation standard.

  According to data from the Ministry of Civil Affairs, the current rural subsistence allowance standard in all counties (cities, districts) across the country has dynamically reached or exceeded the national poverty alleviation standard. The average rural subsistence allowance standard in China is 5842 yuan per person per year.

Under the "two lines into one", are the guarantee standards in rural China low?

Guan Xinping believes that compared with international standards, China's minimum living standard is still low.

Guan Xinping said that the low standards are related to China's social assistance goals and concepts. "The basic goal of our social assistance is to ensure the most basic lives of the most difficult people." Guan Xinping said.

  A number of interviewed experts said that the government’s guarantees leave room, and the government has been cautious in formulating relevant standards.

Lei Ming told China News Weekly that the government's fiscal funds play a major role in guaranteeing the bottom line, and fiscal carrying capacity and sustainability must be considered.

  In May 2019, the Yunnan Provincial Government issued the "Opinions on Further Improving the Rural Minimum Living Guarantee System", proposing that the provincial guidance standards for rural minimum living guarantee will be adjusted dynamically on an annual basis according to the level of economic and social development and price changes.

Clarify the principle of “do your best, do what you can, neither lower the standard nor increase your appetite” to ensure that the rural minimum living standard during the poverty alleviation period is not lower than the national poverty alleviation standard, and at the same time, we must proceed from reality to avoid excessive increase Unsustainable.

  For the identification of undercover guarantee objects, income has been used as the measurement standard.

Lei Ming told China News Weekly that focusing on income is actually to solve the problem of eating.

When the goal of guarantee is extended to "two no worries and three guarantees", to identify the under-cover guarantee objects, a multidimensional poverty measurement is needed.

  According to the standard line of 4,500 yuan per capita disposable income this year, a total of 2,881 people in Guangnan County, Yunnan need protection.

The precise determination of this number is based on a 100% household inspection of the personnel in the bottom of the bag.

  Li Zaiping, deputy director of the Guangnan County Civil Affairs Bureau, told China News Weekly that the local civil affairs department has formed a task force to conduct household surveys in the village every two months since March this year.

The content of the inspection includes the demographic structure, family income, and the situation of migrant workers.

The purpose of household verification is to provide more accurate protection and screen out those who do not meet the standards.

  This year, after several rounds of screening, the number of people covered under the guarantee in Guangnan County has dropped from 7,778 at the beginning to 2,881.

Li Zaiping told China News Weekly that individual applications for cover protection must be reviewed and approved by the villagers’ congress before being reported to the village.

The township government will conduct household inspections, and after passing the township-level meeting and review, it will be reported to the county.

After the county-level household entry check confirms that the situation is true, it will be approved and publicized.

  The “Opinions” issued by the Yunnan Provincial Government clarified the conditions and procedures for determining the family property status of the rural subsistence allowance recipients, and emphasized that the opinions of the masses cannot be used to replace the family income and property status verification, avoiding "discussions on behalf of the review" and "village-level determination "Guarantee" and other issues.

  Li Zaiping introduced that after the poor have entered the coverage, they will receive classified coverage.

According to relevant policies, the protection for people in extreme difficulties is generally divided into three categories: category A is total loss of labor and no other income; category B is total loss of labor and has a certain income; category C is for those with certain labor ability Low-income households are given living allowances according to corresponding standards.

Li Zaiping told China News Weekly that in Guangnan County, the subsidy standard for category A is 375 yuan per person per month, category B is 260 yuan per person per month, and category C is 210 yuan per person per month.

Generally speaking, for families with no labor at home, with disabilities, or poverty due to school-related illness, the civil affairs department will often consider setting the protection standard as Type A or Type B.

Elderly widows and widows are usually covered by the poverty-stricken support standard of 832 yuan per person per month plus a care subsidy of 50 yuan, while the subsidy standard for orphans is even higher.

  In the operation of the precision protection system, another important mechanism is the precision exit mechanism.

Withdrawal is not a withdrawal. Li Zaiping told China News Weekly that the civil affairs department has set a half-year to one-year gradual withdrawal period for newly lifted people to prevent their return to poverty.

During this period, the civil affairs department will monitor the newly poverty-stricken households, relying on the poverty alleviation big data platform, and through timely dynamic updates, to ensure accurate feedback on the effectiveness of poverty alleviation.

"Exhausted various policies"

  "Poverty due to illness" has always been a ferocious "blocker" on the road to poverty.

In 2014, the Poverty Alleviation Office of the State Council established a file for all the rural poor in 2013. Among them, the poverty-stricken households nationwide due to illness and returning to poverty due to illness accounted for 42.2% of all poor households.

In order to get a more detailed and precise understanding of the poverty alleviation and causes of poverty across the country, the Poverty Alleviation Office of the State Council conducted a “look back” on the remaining rural poor at the end of 2015.

According to the "Looking Back" data, the proportion of poverty-stricken households in the country caused by illness and returned to poverty due to illness has not only not declined, but has increased to 44.1%.

  As a deeply impoverished area, Guangnan County in Yunnan is facing more severe difficulties.

The reporter learned from the Guangnan County Poverty Alleviation Office that the county has a large proportion of major causes of poverty due to illness and disability.

Many of the families that are impoverished by illness are expenditure-type poverty, and these families are often not poor families that established documents and established cards.

Lei Ming told China News Weekly that expenditure-related poor families were not actually identified at the beginning, and there is no way to identify them.

When an emergency comes, if the family is not recognized in time, it may be directly dragged into a state of poverty, or even absolute poverty.

Lei Ming believes that in the post-poverty era, spending-based poor families will be the focus of governance, while the difficulty lies in the lack of early warning mechanisms.

  In Baduo Village, in order to prevent the expenditure-oriented poor families from being missed, the poverty alleviation cadres formulated a "double insurance mechanism."

Zuo Yu told China News Weekly that the first insurance mechanism is the "3+X" liability system.

Under this set of mechanisms, each poverty alleviation cadre will be assigned to several households and stall holders, thus forming a grid.

Poverty alleviation cadres need to conduct door-to-door visits in their own areas of responsibility every week. “As soon as there is an emergency in the village, it can be alerted immediately.” Zuo Yu said.

The second insurance mechanism is to gain the trust of the villagers through daily communication and services. “We help the local people. All aspects of the work are far beyond the scope of poverty alleviation. Now if anything happens in the villagers’ homes, they first think about finding Task force."

  According to Zuo Yu, once there is a sudden expenditure-type poor family in the village, the poverty alleviation cadres will often convene a meeting as soon as possible, and sort out the family as soon as possible in the policies of emergency civil assistance, support for the poor, minimum living security, and subsidies for the disabled. May enjoy the rescue policy.

Subsequently, the civil affairs assistants in the village will study and judge relevant policies one by one according to the specific situation of the family.

After meeting the requirements, the poverty alleviation cadres will enter the households to collect family materials and report them level by level on the government platform.

  In the face of sudden expenditure-based poverty, what the poverty alleviation cadres can do is "use all the policies that can be used, and strive for all the social assistance that can be coordinated."

Lei Ming believes that "exhausting various policies" is actually the bundled use of policies, which will produce synergy, but it is still difficult to avoid encountering "policy fights" or "different requirements from various departments".

Lei Ming suggested that a normalized system should be established to incorporate relevant policies into a unified policy framework, while further simplifying operating procedures.

  In fact, the bottom-up protection is not universal, and can only provide basic cash protection. For families in trouble with rigid expenditures, classified assistance is needed to support the bottom.

In Guangnan County, to resolve the rigid expenditures of families in difficulty, start with subsidizing medical insurance participation.

Liu Weiwei, director of the Guangnan County Medical Insurance Bureau, told China News Weekly that for the poverty-stricken population with registered cards, Guangnan County will subsidize the insurance at 180 yuan per person, and individuals only need to pay 100 yuan.

For the extremely poor supporters, the insurance is fully funded.

In the outpatient clinic, there are rescue policies for special chronic diseases, special diseases and chronic diseases. "The rescue policies that existed before, now we can provide some more assistance based on temporary medical assistance." Liu Weiwei explained.

  For marginal households who are impoverished due to illness, they can also adopt a “policy” approach to discuss each issue.

Take an ordinary villager as an example. If you unfortunately suffer from cancer, there is no quota for outpatient visits, and you can also enjoy serious illness insurance. The annual cap is 300,000 yuan.

Guangnan County has also set up a hospital deductible of 5,000 yuan. If it exceeds 5,000 yuan, the proportion of assistance is 50%, and the maximum annual assistance limit is 50,000 yuan.

In order to improve the effectiveness of early warning, the Guangnan County Medical Insurance Bureau will carry out cost screening for the population of marginal households. "If the cost is found to be relatively high, we will verify the family situation; if the family situation is difficult, we will initiate the rescue procedure." Liu Weiwei said.

  The reporter learned from the Guangnan County Medical Insurance Bureau that all insured persons in the county have triple protection, namely basic medical insurance, critical illness insurance and medical assistance. The funds for the insurance are coordinated by Wenshan Prefecture.

  Another challenge in solving the problem of expenditure-based poverty protection is that there is a phenomenon of "bundling" between the qualifications of China's subsistence allowance recipients and the qualifications of special assistance recipients, that is, only the subsistence allowance recipients can receive special assistance.

For example, in the "30 Measures for Poverty Alleviation through Health in Yunnan Province" issued by the General Office of the Yunnan Provincial Government, the medical assistance policy is still geared towards the poor people who have registered for registration.

Lei Ming told China News Weekly that bundling is also a last resort, because the operation is relatively simple.

  Eligibility is "bundled" so that families who are included in the scope of Dibao can get more assistance, while families and individuals who are not included in the scope of Dibao who have corresponding difficulties will be "blocked out of the threshold." Get help.

Guan Xinping, a professor at Nankai University, suggested that we should focus on establishing a double standard of "general poverty standard + specific aid standard" and decouple the poverty standard from the subsistence allowance standard, so as to untie the system of special aid and subsistence allowance.

Several interviewed scholars suggested that consideration should be given to incorporating all other special assistance into a unified social assistance management system.

  Guan Xinping believes that the Dibao should establish a standard that is stricter than the poverty standard. "You must meet the poverty standard before you can get special assistance. If it is more difficult than the general poverty standard, you can apply for the Dibao." Guan Xinping said. .

In August this year, the "Opinions on Reforming and Improving the Social Assistance System" issued by the General Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the General Office of the State Council linked special assistance to low income, not to subsistence allowances.

"This is a step forward on the basis of the'Social Assistance Transformation Measures' introduced in 2014." Guan Xinping said.

Security evolution in the post-poverty era

  In 2020, China will eliminate absolute poverty, but this does not mean that the burden on China's social security network has been reduced.

  Lei Ming, dean of the Institute for Development of Poor Areas of Peking University, told China News Weekly that according to relevant international standards, 40% or less of the median per capita disposable income is relatively poor.

This means that China's large base of relative poverty is difficult to reduce in the short term, which will also bring huge financial pressure on social security.

  Taking Guangnan County as an example, the data provided by the Guangnan County Medical Insurance Bureau show that Guangnan County spends 40 million yuan in subsidies for insurance participation each year, and medical assistance ranges between 12 million and 15 million yuan.

  Another problem facing poor areas is that social security funds have a single source, which mainly relies on financial investment, and the ability of financial investment is closely related to the local economic strength.

This makes a significant difference in the level of protection between regions.

According to the data released by the National Civil Affairs Work Conference in 2019, as of the end of November of that year, the national urban minimum living standard per capita is 7,404 yuan, and the rural minimum living standard is 5247 yuan.

The subsistence allowance level in urban areas is significantly higher than that in rural areas.

This phenomenon is more prominent in poor areas.

  According to the subsistence allowance standard for the fourth quarter of 2019 announced by the Ministry of Civil Affairs, taking the rural subsistence allowance standard as an example, the guarantee standard of 13,920 yuan per person per year in Shanghai is 3.1 times the standard of 4476.5 yuan per person per year in Sichuan Province.

Poor areas have low fiscal revenues and large rigid expenditures for social assistance, further exacerbating the differences in security levels between regions.

  Lei Ming believes that if the future security system is fully borne by finances, it will definitely be too stressful.

It is necessary to establish a social security system in which the government plays the main role and at the same time mobilize the whole society, enterprises, including families and individuals, to alleviate financial pressure.

  Chen Qiulin, director of the Social Security Research Office of the Institute of Population and Labor Economics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, believes that China's social security system has entered a stage of high-quality development, and needs diversified development to meet the bottom line.

  Many scholars believe that in the fight against poverty, the social security system is in the process of continuous improvement, as well as a process of institutionalization and professionalization.

In the post-poverty era, the social security system must become an important starting point for achieving common prosperity.

In Chen Qiulin's view, the deepening reform of the social security system is not aimed at expanding the scope of coverage, but instead shifting to improving security efficiency.

The development of the social security system is not limited to social security, but involves multiple levels of education, employment, and pensions.

  In terms of education security, in Guangnan County, none of the more than 130,000 students in compulsory education dropped out of school.

Lu Xingfa, director of the Education Bureau of Guangnan County, told China News Weekly that Guangnan County has established a three-dimensional funding system from preschool education to university education.

In the compulsory education stage, in addition to the "two exemptions and one subsidy" (that is, free textbooks, exemption of miscellaneous expenses, and subsidies for boarding students), poor students can receive subsidies for round-trip transportation and learning equipment.

Guangnan County has also established an Education Development Association to follow up and guarantee poor students in the county.

In addition, in addition to receiving one-time subsidies such as transportation expenses, impoverished students who enter universities can also apply for interest-free student loans, with a minimum loan of 8,000 yuan and a maximum of 12,000 yuan.

  In terms of employment, Guangnan County uses a "several batch" project to gradually transfer the county's labor force outside the county.

Huang Yifu, deputy director of the Bureau of Human Resources and Social Security of Guangnan County, told China News Weekly that Guangnan County has a comprehensive measure to ensure employment for the poor.

By opening up rural public welfare posts such as cleaners and coordinators of changing customs and customs, resettlement of the three-no people who cannot leave their hometowns, have no jobs to support, and are unable to get rid of poverty, implement full employment, and ensure that every family has at least one laborer employed.

This year, Guangnan County has achieved zero-employment household dynamics.

  From a functional point of view, social assistance focuses on "blood transfusion"-style protection, while targeted poverty alleviation focuses on "bloodmaking."

Lei Ming believes that social assistance is actually a welfare policy, while poverty alleviation and development are developmental policies and are non-welfare.

China has realized the effective connection between the rural social assistance system and the poverty alleviation and development system. The core experience lies in an institutional arrangement that stimulates the formation of the endogenous motivation of the poor through the market mechanism.

  In Lei Ming’s view, the point of convergence between the two systems is that the relief target is not only the aid of materials and funds, but also the provision of some services. Services can actually be combined with poverty alleviation and development, and poor households can also Benefits can be obtained from the service.

Lei Ming said that the prerequisite for this market mechanism to work requires a promising government.

  China News Weekly, Issue 45, 2020

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