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First overview of integrated social services in the EU and best practices

29/04/2015
First overview of integrated social services in the EU and best practices © Alexander Raths / Shutterstock.com

The European Commission published a first overview today of the integrated social services related to labour market and social (re)integration in the EU and identified best practices.

Integrated social services ­­– one-stop-shops for several social services such as training, social work, care services – can improve the effectiveness and efficiency as

  • duplication and gaps are avoided,
  • information and knowledge sharing is facilitated,
  • needs and responses are easily identified, and
  • the services costs will be reduced.

Integrated service delivery facilitates the enforcement of certain conditions linked to a job search (e.g. mandatory participation in activation measures) where the services and benefits are delivered by the same agency (or closely cooperating agencies). For instance, the Estonian reform of 2009, which merged the Labour Market Board with the Unemployed Insurance Fund, is a good example of better coordination and more effective activation of jobseekers.

Integrated services can also lead to the sharing of administrative resources costs between organisations through increased synergies as shown by the 2002 reform in the Netherlands which created the Centre for Work and Income (CWI – Centrum voor Werk en Inkomen).

An integrated approach also offers more appropriate responses to jobseekers facing multiple challenges, in particular the long-term unemployed by providing them tailor-made social services along with activation support. The Finish LAFOS centers, governed by a network composed of  the different Ministries involved, are a good example of centres that take this integrated approach.