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Income support

Definition

Income support comprises all measures taken by national authorities in EU countries to provide an adequate income to their citizens via different benefit schemes, such as:

  • unemployment benefits,
  • family and child benefits,
  • pensions,
  • disability benefits,
  • minimum income schemes.

Minimum income schemes usually target people of working age and aim to ensure a minimum standard of living for individuals and their dependents when they have no other means of financial support.

These schemes are an essential instrument across EU countries to sustain income, decrease inequalities and reduce poverty.

Challenges and policy response

The active inclusion recommendation, adopted in October 2008, called upon EU governments to establish an integrated strategy based on three social policy pillars, namely adequate income support, inclusive labour markets, and access to quality services.

In its Social Investment Package (SIP), the Commission recalls that the level of the minimum income should be high enough for a decent life and at the same time help people to be motivated and activated to work.

The main challenges identified regarding minimum income schemes are their adequacy, their coverage and the non-take-up.

The Commission has identified two complementary approaches related to minimum income schemes:

  • raising awareness on their importance, which is being done through the European Minimum Income Network for mutual learning and the exchange of best practices on minimum income;
  • measuring the adequacy of income support, by:

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