Finances play an important role in the way social service providers organise their work and on the quality of services they provide.
There are many different traditions in funding throughout Europe. Services can be provided and organised directly by public authorities or they can be contracted to private (profit or not-for-profit) services providers. Services can also be funded directly by public authorities, or by the users receiving a budget or vouchers so that they may chose which service they want to receive.
The recent economic and financial crisis has hit particularly hard the social services sector who often partly depend on public funding to successfully achieve their public services mission. As such, the cuts imposed upon public budgets throughout Europe have placed significant pressure on social services to provide high quality services. This in turn has an impact on the quality of life of many people in Europe, including the most disadvantaged.
There are three main areas in which EU policy directly impacts the financing and funding of social service providers
- European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), primarily through the European Social Fund (ESF) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)
- European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI), otherwise known as the Juncker package or the Investment Plan for Europe
- EU legal framework, in areas such as Public Procurement and State Aid
- Social Investment Package
The EU also impacts the funding and financing of Social Services through its economic policy, especially the European Semester. For information regarding different types of funding of services, please read here.
High-level taskforce on Investing in Social Infrastructure
The High-Level Task Force (HLTF) on Investing in Social Infrastructure in Europe was initiated by the European Long-Term Investors Association (ELTI). It was chaired by Romano Prodi and Christian Sautter and comprised representatives from the European Commission, the European Investment Bank, the Council of Europe Development Bank, many National Promotional Banks as well as associations and experts from the social sector. he HLTF's mission was to raise political attention to the crucial role of social infrastructure and related services, aiming to enhance public and private investments in this sector. EASPD was one of the leading experts in this taskforce.
General Studies on the Funding of Social Services
The following papers were published on the topic of how the financial crisis has impacted the work of our members in terms of quality of services, planning, training of staff and sustainability.
- Sustainable funding systems: a crucial need for service providers - EASPD - 2012
- Willing and enabled, article appeared in Public Service Review: Europe – Issue 25, April 2013 (pg. 108-109)
- Invest in social services to rebuild Social Europe, open letter addressed to European leaders (December 2012)
- Inclusion is the solution, not the enemy. EASPD Survey on the impact of the crisis on the disability sector, the second chapter of the publication ‘The service providers' role as human rights enablers in times of crisis’ (September 2012)
- Inputs on the Financial Crisis and its effects on social services for people with disabilities in Europe (updated 2010)
Thomas Bignal, Policy Officer
+32 2 282 46 19