EASPD announces its study on unlocking the Juncker Package (European Fund for Strategic Investment -EFSI) for the Social Services sector. The study provides practical steps and recommendations on how to ensure that EFSI supports the financing of projects in this sector, as well as an overall analysis of the barriers currently hindering this process; both from the perspective of social service providers and financial intermediaries.
In 2015, the European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) welcomed the creation of the European Fund for Strategic Investment –otherwise known as the Juncker Package- to re-launch private investment into the real economy; and in particular the inclusion of social service providers as a target group. Although not a replacement for the essential adequate public funding for the delivery and continuity of high quality social services, EASPD views EFSI as able to play a complementary role to support the financing of certain specific projects in social services where private investment already plays a role. In such projects, EFSI can help to unlock better financial terms for social service providers when applying for support from a bank or other financial intermediary.
However, up until December 2015, EFSI had yet to support a project in the field of social services, a missed opportunity in the eyes of EASPD. For this reason, EASPD commissioned a study divided into 5 separate reports looking at (1) the practical steps to gain access to EFSI for social service providers and financial intermediaries (report 1, 2 & 3), (2) the key barriers currently hindering this process (report 4) and (3) recommendations to the European Commission and the European Investment Bank (report 5).
Based on this study, EASPD calls on the European Commission and the European Investment Bank to
- Provide information on the EFSI targeted to the specific needs of the social services sector to avoid a one-size-fits-all approach to the economy;
- Facilitate the creation of national one-stop-shops for the EFSI and to harmonise the process;
- Organise sector specific capacity-building and networking sessions between all stakeholders at national or regional level;
- Include experts in the field of social services in the European Investment Advisory Hub and the EIB’s internal social unit; and organise workships with civil society to exchange views on quality considerations in health and social services;
- Develop more flexible and adjustable administrative formats (grouping projects, etc) to facilitate uptake from smaller social service providers;
- Ensure that the EFSI is used to complement the financing of the EaSI programme and create synergies with the European Structural and Investment Funds.
- EASPD views these recommendations as key to unlocking the EFSI for the social services sector. Similarly, EASPD commits to take practical steps together with the social services sector to assess if certain projects could be supported by the EFSI and how this could be done.
If all stakeholders manage to bridge the current gap, EFSI could be a significant new tool to finance innovation in the sector, investment in human capital and build or renovate much needed community-based social infrastructure.
Note to editors
The European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities is a non-profit European umbrella organization, established in 1996, and currently representing over 12.000 social and health services for persons with disabilities. EASPD advocates effective and high-quality disability-related services in the field of education, employment and individualised support, in line with the UN CRPD principles, which could bring benefits not only to persons with disabilities, but to society as a whole.