Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

Access to high-quality social services


Every citizen, especially the most disadvantaged, should be able to count on quality social services such as

  • early childhood education and care
  • long-term care
  • social assistance (social welfare or benefits)
  • social housing
  • needs-based personal targeted services aimed at social inclusion and labour market integration


  • Rising demand for social services
  • Increasingly diverse demand: users want better-quality, more user-friendly empowering social services and they want a say in how they are provided.
  • Pressure on the funding of social services due to the economic and financial crisis.
  • Inconsistence between providers of cash benefits and of social services providers.

Policy response

Quality social services are a smart and sustainable investment. As stated in the Social Investment Package (SIP) they

  • help avoid personal challenges and crises
  • make people who are not in employment active again
  • enable them to cope with their personal challenges

The Social Investment Package also stresses the role of high-quality, integrated and personalised services in

  • developing people's skills and capabilities
  • improving the opportunities open to them
  • helping them use their potential to the full throughout the lives

Integrated social services delivery can improve both efficiency and effectiveness. This approach could have a positive impact on

  • avoiding duplication and loopholes,
  • increasing outreach,
  • making it easier to pool information and knowledge, and
  • facilitating the identification of needs and adapted responses.

The study on integrated delivery of social services provides a comprehensive analysis and assessment of reform processes focused on integration of social services aimed at the activation of minimum income recipients in the labour market. It is complemented by a practitioners’ checklist providing concrete gui­dance and tools, as well as insight into the rationale behind, and the connections between the elements of service delivery.


The EU encourages cooperation between the EU countries to improve the quality of social services.

The European Social Fund and EaSI provide financial support to develop and modernise social services.

The voluntary European Quality Framework for Social Services provides guidance on how to define, provide, assess and improve social services. It is supported by the Commission.

EU rules on social services will be clarified, to make sure public authorities provide a high level of service.

Further reading

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