Ministry of Civil Affairs
The Ministry of Civil Affairs is one of the government organizations in charge of social administration under the State Council. The essential functions of the ministry are to guarantee a basic living for the people, to develop democracy, to deliver services to the society and to support the national defense. The main responsibilities fall into 6 categories. First, in the area of social assistance, we are responsible for formulating the policies of social assistance, and organize to provide subsistence assistance and medical assistance to people living in poverty. Second, in the area of disaster reduction and disaster relief, we organize and coordinate the work on disaster reduction and disaster relief, take charge of disaster assessment and release the information, manage and allocate the disaster relief funds and material from the central government and supervise their usage. Third, in the area of social welfare, we draw up the policies of social welfare for the elderly, the disabled and the orphans, and take responsibility for the administration of social welfare institutions, social work development, welfare lottery issuance and charity promotion. Fourth, in the area of veterans’ affairs, we work out the settlement policies for demobilized soldiers and retired military officers, direct the work on supporting the armed forces and providing preferential treatment to their family dependents as well as martyrs commendation. Fifth, in the area of basic level democracy development and social organizations administration, we provide guidance to the self-governance of villagers in rural areas and community residents in urban areas and community development, and take responsibility for the registration, administration and supervision of associations, foundations and private non-enterprise units. Sixth, in the area of specialized social affairs, we are responsible for the administration of administrative boundary division, geographical names, marriage registration, adoption registration and funeral affairs.
The Department of Social Assistance, Ministry of Civil Affairs
The Department of Social Assistance of Ministry of Civil Affairs is the Chinese central government agency in charge of social assistance work. Its main responsibilities are leading the formulation work of social assistance development plans and policies; participating in the distribution and allocation of central social assistance subsidy fund; organizing and implementing systems including Minimum Living Allowance, Assistance and Support for People Living in Extreme Poverty, Medical Assistance and Temporary Assistance; promoting the construction of legislation, institutionalization and informatization of social assistance; conducting performance appraisal, supervision and inspection over social assistance work.
Minimum Living Allowances: Minimum Living Allowances is an assistance system, under which the Chinese government provides allowances for families to make up the difference when the income per capita of all family members living together is lower than the minimum local standards for living, and family property status conforms to the local standards for the grant of this allowance. Minimum Living Allowances is the most important social assistance system of China with 150 billion yuan disbursed annually from the state financial fund to cover more than 61 million people. It serves as a bottom-line measure in the new state strategy for poverty elimination, .
Assistance and Support for People Living in Extreme Poverty: Assistance and Support for People Living in Extreme Poverty is an assistance system, under which the Chinese government provides support for people living in extreme poverty, namely older persons, disabled persons and minors (under the age of 16) who have lost the ability to work, have no source of income and have no statutory obligors or whose statutory obligors are unable to provide them with support, maintenance or foster care. The support includes provision of basic living conditions, care for those unable to look after themselves, treatment of diseases, and help with funeral affairs. The responsibilities of the Department of Social Assistance of Ministry of Civil Affairs are guiding local civil affairs departments, taking people living in extreme poverty as receiver, in the recognition, construct support agencies to provide collective support services, or directly deliver support allowances; offer care and nursing service.
Medical Assistance: Medical Assistance is a assistance system, under which the Chinese government provides financial support and help, such as help in basic medical insurance premium and medical expense, to specific group of people living in extreme poverty to ensure them access to basic medical and health care services. Those who can apply for Medical Assistance include receivers of Minimum Living Allowances and Support for People Living in Extreme Poverty, seriously ill family members in low-income families, persons with severe disabilities, older persons and minors.
Temporary Assistance: Temporary Assistance is a sort of contingency and interim assistance, offered by the Chinese government to families or individuals faced with sudden difficulties threatening their basic subsistence, but are not covered by other social assistance schemes for the time being or are still in grave difficulties after assistance, usually due to unexpected accidents or injury, severe diseases or other particular reasons. Temporary Assistance functions as a minimum guarantee and is the last defence line in social safety net.
Note: Since March 2018, the role of medical assistance has been entrusted to the national health commission of the People’s Republic of China.