Residents in China's major cities received higher minimum living allowances this year, the Ministry of Civil Affairs reported recently.
In Beijing the monthly minimum living allowance was increased to 290 yuan (US$35) per person from 285 yuan, the seventh increase since the State Council implemented the Minimum Standard of Living System in September 1997.
By the end of 1999, 667 cities in China had begun using the system, which acts as a safety net for China's social security system.
The allowance is calculated by comparing average family incomes and the actual standard of living of the families. Due to variations in the cost of living in different cities the allowance varies from city to city.
Some cities, such as Hangzhou in South China's Zhejiang Province, set the standard according to the number of people in the family. An individual enjoys the highest allowance with 300 yuan per month, two people 285 yuan and families with three or more members even lower with 20 yuan. Some cities offer a special allowance for widows and orphans that is 20 percent higher than the uniform standard.
Even with the system, there are still people living under the standard who do not yet receive benefits. According to a survey, there are some 14 million impoverished city residents in the nation. However, by the end of 2001, only 4.16 million were receiving the minimum living allowance.
The system works only to provide basic living needs for impoverished city residents not as a way to resolve poverty.
(People's Daily July 9, 2002)