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Policy Recommendations For Social Services In Times of Crisis December 2012


Eurodiaconia is a

faith

dynamic, Europe wide community of organisations founded in the Christian

and working in the tradition of Diaconia, who are committed to a Europe of

equality

and

justice.

As the

solidarity,

leading network of Diaconia in Europe,

connect organisations, institutions and churches providing

we

social and health services and

education on a Christian value base in over 20 European countries. We bring members together to

share practices, impact social policy and reflect on

Diaconia in Europe today.

Editor: Heather Roy Design: Jérémie Malengreaux Printed on recycled paper

Rue Joseph II 166 Tel: +32 (0)2 234 38 60 1000 Bruxelles Fax: +32 (0)2 234 38 65 Belgium E-mail: office@eurodiaconia.org www.eurodiaconia.org

We want to thank the European Commission for the financial support to freely express our opinions and support the most vulnerable in our society

Social services in times of crisis



2


INTRODUCTION Who are we?

Eurodiaconia is a federation of organisations, institutions and churches providing social and health services and education on a basis of Christian values in over 20 European countries. Our 39 members from 22 countries in Europe are active in the provision of social services. They are rooted in the Christian faith within the traditions of the Reformation as well as in the Anglican and Orthodox traditions. Eurodiaconia links diaconal actors to examine social needs, develop ideas and influence policies impacting poverty and social exclusion, social and health care services and the future of social Europe. We do this to enable inclusion, care and empowerment of the most vulnerable and excluded and ensure dignity for all.

What is this about?

Eurodiaconia has been monitoring the impact of the economic and financial crisis on its members and on their ability to provide services to people in need. Eurodiaconia conducted three surveys of its members and wrote reports in May 2009, March 2010 and September 2011. Over the three years 19 members contributed to the surveys. The responses provided not only data but experiential evidence and commentary on the context members were operating in. The reports presented this evidence as well as our analysis and policy recommendations addressed to decision makers at national and European level. A synthesis of these reports can be found annexed to the document below. From this monitoring and regular contact with members, Eurodiaconia reports that not-for-profit social services providers have generally been severely impacted by the crisis, with an increasing demand for services and decreasing support. Providers have needed to stretch the capacity of their services and are under increasing pressure, often uncertain of what the future holds. Even in this social context, where social services are even more essential for people and society, they have not been given the political recognition or financial support that they deserve and need. Eurodiaconia is responding to this situation by underlining the importance of social investment, especially in the current crisis. This document presents reasons why investment in social services in times of crisis is essential. Social services contribute to the individual’s well-being and to strengthening wider society. They also bring a social and economic return on the investment, particularly on investment in services provided by not-for-profit providers. This section is followed by concrete proposals as to the actions to be taken to ensure social services can fulfill their roles as facilitators of social inclusion and thus building blocks of social cohesion.

Social services in times of crisis

Introduction

3


WHY PROTECT SOCIAL SERVICES IN TIME OF CRISIS? 1. Social services contribute to the individual’s well-being Social services provide essential assistance to many people, whether for a long or short term need, covering the main risks of life such as ageing, as well as for specific circumstances such as disability. They often address not only physical and mental needs but also the spiritual aspect of care for each human being. They enable people to integrate or reintegrate into society. They enable people to access and retain employment, offer a route out of poverty and exclusion. In doing so they enable people to fulfill their potential. Social and Health services are delivered directly to the person and need to be tailor-made to the individual, taking into account the specific needs of different categories of users and the involvement and empowerment of users. They consequently hold certain specific characteristics especially important in the provision of social services, such as continuity and comprehensiveness. Therefore a social service needs to be of quality to fulfill its mission of meeting a need. Eurodiaconia believes that access to quality social services is necessary to uphold human dignity and is a fundamental right, which is in line with article 14 (part 1) of the European Social Charter and article 34.1 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

2. Social services contribute to strengthening wider society Not-for-profit organisations and social service providers not only meet people’s needs, they also contribute to the greater goal of developing social cohesion and reinforcing community. This in turn contributes to economic development and strengthens society. Therefore, social policy and social expenditures can be seen as productive factors as well as a social protection imperative. Austerity measures that do not take into account their social impact will fail in the long term. This impact has to be factored into fiscal and economic policy decisions. Social investment is a long term investment in people, in social cohesion, benefitting countries across the European Union, and reconciling the European Union’s economic and social objectives. EU research1 has shown that the social sector is growing, with demand for services increasing and expected to continue to do so. Promoting investment in social and health services can create quality, sustainable employment, ensure that the needs of the ageing population can be met, tackle poverty and exclusion and ensure supportive employment services. More specifically, investing in quality social services, in particular preventive services, reduces in many cases long-term care and therefore reduces expenditure. 1 Briefing paper: the employment potential in the social services sector (April 2012) from the European Commission, Biennial report on social services of general interest, Brussels, European Communities 2008, p. 10

Social services in times of crisis

Why protect social services in time of crisis?

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3. Not-for-profit social service providers bring a high return on investment Not-for-profit organisations are often advocates for the vulnerable in society, as well as working toward ensuring that all have access to quality services. They do not seek profit maximisation, but rather seek to promote the well-being of those that use their services as well as the wider society. Therefore, they provide an added value for the public authorities that fund their work, as any profits generated from public money are reinvested for the general interest. They are usually founded on values and therefore have a long-term interest in working towards their values. In the social sector this represents a long-term commitment to protecting and promoting the needs of service users and potential service users, rather than a short-term interest such as maximising income for shareholders or investors. They often involve volunteers, thereby encouraging civil participation and a sense of solidarity, building social inclusion of the volunteers and wider social cohesion.

HOW TO PROTECT SOCIAL COHESION BY SUPPORTING SOCIAL SERVICES IN TIMES OF CRISIS? Eurodiaconia Recommendations Basing its argumentation on its members experience and recalling the declaration ‘Protecting Europe’s most precious resources at a time of crisis2, Eurodiaconia argues that the European Commission and Member States must:

1. Adopt a long-term vision of the social sector and the well-being of people through investing in accessible social services and an effective social protection system. To do so the European Commission must: »» Require Member States to carry out social impact assessments of austerity measures and make recommendations to tackle the social impact of such measures in their Country Specific Recommendations. »» Encourage Member States to implement an integrated approach to the social inclusion challenges they face, including making concrete proposals on the Active Inclusion strategy in the Country Specific Recommendations, supporting local authorities to develop integrated approaches, and promoting best practice exchanges. »» Make recommendations for a growth-centered approach based on social investment in the Annual Growth Survey.

2 Protecting Europe’s most precious resources at a time of crisis, Eurodiaconia AGM declaration, 15th June 2012, Novi Sad, Serbia.

Social services in times of crisis

How to protect social cohesion by supporting social services in times of crisis?

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»» Include social safeguards protecting social services and social protection systems in the agreements with countries receiving EU and IMF funds to tackle their debt. »» Publicise the outcome of existing studies on the cost of “non-inclusion”. »» Evaluate access to social services and social protection in the Member States and when necessary encourage them to simplify access to social protection schemes and social services as a cost-effective way to prevent and mitigate social exclusion. »» Develop a package of objective and subjective indicators that measure the material and non-material components of well-being, including social indicators, to complement GDP and unemployment indicators, measured at national and European level, and to publish the results regularly, to measure societal progress and not just economic development. »» Recommend actions to promote employment in the social and health sector to tackle staff shortages, improve lifelong learning and ensure decent working conditions for effective social and health care services.

2. Recognise and support the role of sustainable not-for-profit social services, both politically and financially, to ensure they can fulfill their mission of meeting people’s needs and building social cohesion in our community. »» Commission research into the added value of not-for-profit social organisations and services in the social economy. »» Ensure any policy or funding programmes designed to support social innovation address developing effective social services that better meet social needs and improve people’s quality of life. »» Remind Member States that they agreed to adopt an approach that shifts from “curative” measures addressing the symptoms of exclusion and ill health “towards preventive measures as a strategy to improve quality of life and reduce the burden of chronic diseases, frailty and disability3”. »» Fund and publicise a study to examine the cost effectiveness of preventive care to enable effective spending in this area as well as a study of tools that measure the economic and social return on social investment that can be used at a service and policy level.

3 Council Conclusions on Healthy and Dignified Ageing, 2980th EMPLOYMENT, SOCIAL POLICY, HEALTH AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS Council meeting, November 2009 p5

Social services in times of crisis

How to protect social cohesion by supporting social services in times of crisis?

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ANNEX 1: KEY MESSAGES FROM EURODIACONIA MEMBERS AS NOT FOR PROFIT SOCIAL SERVICES PROVIDERS RESPONDING TO THE FINANCIAL AND ECONOMIC CRISIS SINCE 2008 1. The constancy of increasing needs and a lack of support to cope with it »» More in need… Our three consecutive studies revealed that Eurodiaconia members have clearly experienced an increasing demand for services, especially debt counselling, emergency financial support, food aid and employment advice.

Percent of respondents who saw an increase in demand for specific services since the crisis began 2011 (anticipated) Employment Advice

2010

Debt Counselling

2009

Emergency Financial support

Each year represents a further increase in the demand for each service listed.

Homelessness Services Food Programs 0%

10%

20%

30%

40%

50%

60%

70%

80%

90%

»» …More needed: On the other hand, Eurodiaconia members have reported a generally decreasing level of support, not only in funding but also politically, especially from public authorities which have tended to prioritise social services less and less despite the tense social context.

2. The rationalisation of services through stretching resources and capacity »» Carrying the burden… Interestingly, the reports also show that Eurodiaconia members have somehow been able to shoulder some of the impact of the crisis. According to Eurodiaconia members, the impact of the crisis on their ability to provide services in some ways has been less severe than impact of the crisis on society. Members explain this by highlighting their efforts to adapt through rationalising their services and increasing their efficiency. Rate the level of impact of the crisis at the national/regional/municipal levels

Rate the direct impact of the crisis on your organisation's ability to provide services

14

12

12

10

10

8

8

6

6

4

4

2

2 0

0

2009

2010

2011

2009

2010

No Impact

0

1

1

No impact

10

2

2

Little impact

8

6

7

Little impact

8

9

10

Large impact

13

12

8

Large impact

3

7

3

Social services in times of crisis

2011

Annex 1

7


»» …How far and how long? To continue to meet the needs of the most vulnerable people in Europe and to survive, Eurodiaconia members have needed to stretch both their resources and their capacity. This adaptability has helped but has not always been enough. In responding to the new challenges brought in by the economic and financial crisis, Eurodiaconia members in some cases needed to reduce their provision of social services either by refusing assistance to some service users or by reducing the scope of their activities.

3. A changing face of poverty? »» The most vulnerable are still the same people… In 2009, Eurodiaconia members highlighted that those suffering most were those that were already suffering from poverty and social exclusion before the financial crisis had even started. Some members particularly emphasised people in long term unemployment. »» … the emergence of the “new poor” Since then, Eurodiaconia members have also emphasised the increase in new profiles of social and health services users, such as middle-class workers who have lost their jobs and face over-indebtedness and families with children. Many Eurodiaconia members have particularly stressed that the challenges of everyday life in EU Member States have become too high for many people, either financially, or socially. This has been particularly highlighted in association with the issue of low levels of social security, which are often attached to complex access procedures. The impact of the financial and economic crisis has been severe on many specific groups. Since the start of the crisis, Eurodiaconia members have highlighted the strong social impact on migrants, as well as the deteriorating situation of people with disabilities especially due to public cuts on social benefits. These public cuts on social benefits have indeed often appeared to have a direct negative impact on people with disabilities and their quality of life (especially in the Netherlands, Denmark, Austria, and the Czech Republic). Concerns also persist in particular for young unemployed people and the elderly.

Groups that respondents have had to refuse services to because of effects of the crisis Unemployed

2011

Migrants

2010

Homeless

Yes = 1

Elderly Youth Children

0

Social services in times of crisis

1

2

Annex 1

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4. A social model fighting to survive rather than to develop »» 2008: an opportunity to re-think the way society works… Initially, members highlighted the issue of the roots of the crisis in their responses. In 2008, about half the number of respondents believed that the crisis might bring positive opportunities, such as open a debate on the structure of society, and how to put the economy on a more sustainable path. They imagined that more attention would be given to their work due to its potential to mitigate the effects of the crisis. »» …2012: what perspectives for Europe? Today, 4 years into the crisis, with unemployment rates rising all over Europe and no solution in sight, optimism has decreased. The question that many policy makers seem to be asking nowadays is not “how do we change to a more equal society?”, but “how can we reduce the level public debt as quickly as possible?”

5. The question of the cost of care As governmental and European decision makers have increasingly orientated their policies on budget cuts to respond to the crisis, many Eurodiaconia members have highlighted the consequences of these political choices in terms of human costs. For some Eurodiaconia members, the first risk is the decreasing quality of care or the development of a two-speed care system. Some of Eurodiaconia’s members stress the specific direct human impact of these policies on people with disabilities. One of Eurodiaconia’s members takes the consequences of this reasoning further as they sound the alarm of an increasing social discourse tendency that involves “scapegoats”. “As municipalities have to cut their budgets there easily arises a discussion about those groups who are expensive. (…)When the budget priorities become sharper and more sensitive it often calls forth a kind of resentment to other people: You are too expensive.” These reports from Eurodiaconia’s members are very alarming as they confirm the risk of decaying social cohesion. That is why Eurodiaconia wants to ask the European Commission to ensure that the European Union’s movement toward more economic and fiscal consolidation will not be at the detriment of the most vulnerable, but that on the contrary, it will vouch for the protection of the most vulnerable.

Social services in times of crisis

Annex 1

9


6. What future for diaconal organisations and the Church in providing services?

Has the crisis impacted publicly run social services in your country?

Eurodiaconia members are facing a rise in demand for services and decreasing support from public authorities. They are also witnessing a change in publicly run social services such as a decrease in the scope of publicly run social services, in its range of action or quality. In view of this changing reality for social services and social protection system, the dilemma is to know who has the responsibility to care. Is Europe moving toward a European “Big Society� or will it keep fighting for its social welfare model? If the former becomes true, what will the role of Churches and Diaconia be? There is no consensus amongst Eurodiaconia membership on the future role of Diaconia in responding to this changing society. A majority of members believe that the type of services they provide will have to change to respond to the changing needs and changing society. They are ready to adapt. However, if some members wonder to what extent the Church(es) and Diaconia should take on a bigger social responsibility, this reasoning is far from being shared by all Eurodiaconia members; half of Eurodiaconia responding members do not think that their organisation will have a bigger role to play to counterbalance a decrease in the provision of publicly run services. So even if Eurodiaconia members are ready to change the type of services they provide to adapt to changing needs, they do not want the state to withdraw from its responsibility either.

Yes

11

10

8 3

4

2

3

1

In 2009

In 2010

1

Expected for 2011

Do you think that the services offered by your members have been/will have to be changed due to the crisis? Yes

Yes, in the long term

Not sure

No

7 5

5

5

3 2

2 1

Since 2009

Expected for 2011

Does your organisation/member organisation now have a bigger role to play at local/national levels? Yes 6

7

7

No

I don't know 7

2

In 2009

Social services in times of crisis

I don’t know

No

7

7

1 In 2010

1 Expected for 2011

Annex 1

10


Rue Joseph II, 166 1000 Brussels Belgium

+32 0(2) 234 38 60 Tel.: Fax : +32 0(2) 234 38 65 E-mail : info@eurodiaconia.org

www.eurodiaconia.org


Policy Recommendations for Social Services in Times of Crisis