On 3rd June 2020 the European Commission organised an online helpdesk on support to social services to respond to COVID-19 crisis. The helpdesk focused on bridging the gap between the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative (CRII & CRII+) and the funding needs of social services due to COVID-19. The outcome was clear: CRII can be used to fund the emergency funding needs of social services due to COVID-19, but access to these funds is needed now, in order to enable services to respond to the reality of COVID-19. To ensure that the CRII can be more quickly accessed by these service providers, dialogue between managing authorities and social services is key.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the European Union has developed a series of measures to help EU Member States. The Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative is one of the major initiatives developed and allows Member States to re-allocate unspent EU funds (especially the European Social Fund & the European Regional Development Fund), with more flexibility, to tackle the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. The total package consists of up to €37 billion.
The European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) has been working to ensure that part of the CRII is dedicated to covering the additional costs and lowering income of over 200.000 social service providers across the continent. In response, the European Commission organized a Helpdesk Webinar, attended by 600 participants, to help social service providers and national public authorities better engage on the funding needs of social services due to COVID-19 and the opportunities that CRII can bring to fill-in this gap.
At the event, social service providers presented clear data collected from 22 countries which shows that nearly all social service providers across the continent have increased expenditure, especially in three fields: staff-related costs , health and safety measures and digital investments. Their income is also negatively affected due to reduced public support, closed services and social entreprises and less charity contributions. It also demonstrated that none of the service providers had benefitted from the CRII, despite the urgency of their situation. In response, the European Commission highlighted the shared management of the CRII and recommended social service providers to engage with their national and regional authorities to access such EU funds.
After the event, Mr Luk Zelderloo, Secretary General EASPD, said “COVID-19 has challenged social service provision like never before. This is about the millions who benefit from support to access their basic human rights and the 11 million staff who dedicate their professional lives to helping others. The European Union has pro-actively put money on the table to help public authorities deal with COVID-19. Why then is none of this EU CRII money being used to support the provision of social services during this crisis? We welcome the European Commission’s commitment for a permanent helpdesk. That is very positive. But the crisis is now, the funding needs are now and the solutions need to be for now!”
EASPD will continue to engage with the European Institutions, national managing authorities and social service providers to ensure that the EU brings real concrete solutions to social services in the weeks, months and years to come. This Helpdesk Webinar represents an excellent start to this dialogue.
- Snapshot Report: Impact of COVID-19 on Disability Services in Europe
- EASPD’s updates on the COVID-19
- EASPD and EAN open letter on Ensuring EU Response to COVID-19 tackles threat of social care emergency
- EASPD Priorities for EU Response to COVID-19 regarding threat to Social Service Provision
- Joining Forces! EASPD COVID-19 Support Space
- Open Letter in Follow-up to High Level Discussion on COVID-19 and Social Services
- Register now: ‘Social Services & COVID-19: what role for EU?’ on 25th June 10h00-12h00 CEST
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 17,000 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.