Ukraine: Is the state not taking care of us again?

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The government has decided to renew its efforts to monitor citizens who may have "unlawfully" used social benefits, namely unemployment benefits and the ePidderzhka programme. Although the amounts of these payments are comparable to the minimum wage, officials believe that their unjustified receipt threatens public finances.

The Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs have developed a draft order approving the Procedure for Investigating Insurance Claims and the Reasonableness of Financial Support Payments ( Its purpose is to deprive a person of the possibility of receiving unemployment benefits if he or she has performed paid work, concealed the fact of going abroad, received a pension, or otherwise violated the conditions of being registered at the employment centre. According to clause 5, the investigation will be conducted even on the basis of media reports. The document regulates in detail the sources from which employment centres will obtain information about citizens, as well as the algorithm of actions in case of discrepancies between the data. If an investigation report is drawn up, the "guilty" person may be charged with the amount of unemployment benefits paid and the cost of social services provided.

Imagine: efforts that could have been spent on employing people will be spent on identifying the facts of "illegal" receipt of meagre benefits (currently, the amount of unemployment benefits does not exceed UAH 6,700). This is despite the fact that the total number of its recipients has decreased unprecedentedly: as of 1 July, the official number of registered unemployed was 113.4 thousand people.

Recently, the Ministry of Economy stated that more than a year ago, a significant number of citizens had unlawfully received UAH 6,500 under the ePromotion programme when businesses were shut down due to the start of the full-scale invasion. In February-March 2022, about 4 million people ( applied through the Diia app as a result of income loss. Subsequently, it was reported that more than 25,000 Ukrainians ( (0.6% of the recipients!) had received the appropriate amount by mistake. All of them were employees of state-funded institutions and were not entitled to such payments under the law. However, at the time of the payments, officials could have checked where the people worked. Now the authorities are demanding a refund, although many lawyers have doubts ( that the courts will uphold the claims.

But the state's "fight against the poor" is not limited to this. A new, even stricter, stage of verification of social welfare recipients is ahead. Additional options, checks and criteria will make it more difficult for those who need it to access support. We can also add to this the complication of the criteria for obtaining IDP status, as we wrote about earlier. The government is gradually tightening the targeting of social assistance, which millions of Ukrainians rely on. The government's neoliberal priorities may further demotivate citizens from returning from abroad.

Emphasising the need to save the budget, MPs do not develop or vote for new ways to fill it: through a progressive tax rate, deoffshorisation, additional taxes on luxury, etc. They are looking for the guilty among the poor, forgetting the promises to expand the circle of recipients of social benefits. In particular, the Cabinet of Ministers has not yet developed a mechanism for financial support for those employees whose employment contracts have been suspended (although this was envisaged in the Law of 01.07.2022 No. 2352).

Such steps, according to the Social Movement, clearly indicate that the state is further abandoning its protective function. The term "social assistance" loses its meaning if the state can take back benefits under countless pretexts. The focus of social policy is shifting to combating "abuse" among those in need in order to discourage them from seeking support.

According to the World Bank (, the war has pushed 7.1 million Ukrainians below the poverty line, and current government policies are only deepening the crisis. Cuts to social support could increase poverty to the point where it undermines economic growth. Austerity is incompatible with the post-war revival of Ukraine, as it discourages people from working in their homeland and paying social contributions.

"The Social Movement is convinced that the way out of the current crisis requires the dismantling of the oligarchic capitalist system, democratic economic planning and, on this basis, an increase in the level of wages and social security.