Besides economic development and environmental protection, the 2014 Prize Laureate Suzhou introduced innovative social policies to ensure fair and equal treatment for all for a sustained future.
Children of migrant workers in Suzhou are given equal opportunities as their counterparts. Photo: _fla © 123rf.com
- Suzhou’s economic growth is complemented by innovative social policies that facilitated the integration of migrant workers, where they are given equal access to health and educational benefits as local residents, and contributed to social stability.
- These inclusionary policies are regarded as one of the significant achievements of Suzhou.
Key issues faced before the implementation of the project
- Surge of migrant workers to the city seeking jobs as a result of rapid economic growth, with a lack of protection for these workers.
- Disparity in quality of life between rural and urban areas in terms of housing, education and employment opportunities.
- Inadequate public services and social security for migrant workers.
Leadership and governance
- The Municipal Government acts as the key legislation agency in implementing plans and projects for the city, and coordinates sub-departments, such as district-level governments, Urban and Rural Planning Committee, Municipal Planning Bureau, etc.
- Community residents and relevant enterprises provide feedback for specific urban transformation plans to align results with their requirements.
- Suzhou Municipal People’s Congress examines and approves these transformation plans, and formalises them as laws and regulations after their approval, to ensure the sustainability of the transformation.
Creativity and innovation
- A ‘Residence Permit’ allows non-native residents to access citizen-equivalent benefits in nine areas including education, healthcare and employment.
- The city built public rental housing, manages private rental housing, and introduced housing fund policy among other measures to improve the living conditions of non-native residents.
- The Municipal Government introduced policies to include housing of non-native residents with its housing security policy. Some 855,000 non-native employees (or 48% of total employees) enjoy same housing funds as native employees.
- New citizens receive free job introduction and employment training to ensure fair employment, and non-native employees enjoy same insurance policies as their native counterparts.
- Equal and efficient public services enable all employees to enjoy all kinds of employment services within the community, with 99 new ‘Citizens Comprehensive Service Centres’ established for non-native residents’ exclusive use.
- Local regulations and working guidelines ensure the fair and equal treatment of the children of migrant workers in the city, allowing them to receive compulsory education.
Impacts of the project
Unemployment rate decreased
Average disposable income for urban households increased
Per capita area of public green areas increased
Most popular city for migrant workers nationwide
Icons made by Good Ware from www.flaticon.com
- Unemployment rates decreased from the peak of 4.08% in 2002 to less than 3% in 2013, with employees in tertiary industry accounting for over half of the total employed population.
- Improvement in pay scale sees the average disposable income for urban households increase from RMB 10,617 (approximately USD $1,726) in 2002 to RMB 37,531 (approximately USD $6,103) in 2012.
- The strategy of fair public services helped to enhance the scope and quality of public facilities such as healthcare, education, sports, culture leisure.
- The public green area per capita increased from 6.8m2 in 2002 to 14.9m2 in 2012.
- The social insurance system of both urban and rural areas is optimised, with all permanent residents having access to high standard of medical care. Seniors are also provided with old-age insurance.
- In 2012, 15,772 public rental houses were added. Over 700,000 houses were built, reconstructed, rented and incorporated into housing management for 2.15 million non-native residents, account for 33% of all housing. 83,000 households also received housing loan amounting to a total value of RMB 20.55 billion (approximately USD $3.34 billion).
- The number of non-native students in public schools reached 227,900 in 2012.
- As a result of its social policies, Suzhou has been awarded as the most popular city for migrant workers nationwide.
A community event in Suzhou © Suzhou
- It is important for a city to have inclusionary policies in the treatment of migrant workers, in order to bring about greater community integration and social stability. O