Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

News 27/01/2021

Recent social policy developments in Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland, Hungary, Spain and the UK

Six new Flash Reports prepared by the European Social Policy Network (ESPN) are now available and provide information on social policy developments in Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland, Hungary, Spain and the UK.

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  • In November 2020, the Belgian government adopted a plan to gradually increase minimum social security and social assistance benefits towards the so-called “at-risk-of-poverty” (AROP) threshold. Overall, the plan was welcomed as a significant improvement, but the focus on minimum pensions has been questioned because only minimum pensions, which were already the highest among all minimum benefits, will exceed the AROP threshold in 2024, while other social minima (such as minimum unemployment benefits) will remain far below it.
  • In 2021, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (one of the two entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina) is likely to adopt a new Law on Support to Families with Children which would put an end to discrimination based on territorial principles and introduce in the entire entity a uniform maternity allowance for unemployed mothers and a uniform child assistance benefit. Both benefits would be means-tested. Although the reform is a step in the right direction, it is insufficient and is unlikely to benefit an average household with children.
  • In order to guarantee good quality long-term care (LTC), the Finnish government has decided to gradually increase the required number of nurses per patient in the LTC sector from 0.5 as of 1 October 2020 to 0.7 by 1 April 2023.  This decision has been heavily criticised for various reasons by opposition parties, private service providers and other stakeholders, the main one being that it will exacerbate the already existing nursing shortage.
  • In October 2020, the Hungarian Parliament approved a new law to reform the healthcare system. The new law increases considerably the salary of doctors, subject to very strict conditions, and seeks to tackle important issues (such as ruling out informal payments and clarifying the role of public and private healthcare); but it also raises some concerns among healthcare personnel.
  • In May 2020, the Spanish government launched the Minimum Living Income (MLI, Ingreso Mínimo Vital), a non-contributory minimum income scheme for households with insufficient economic means to cover their basic needs. Although the MLI regulatory framework is still being amended, it is already a big step forward in the protection against poverty.
  • A New Year message from a leading social change organisation calls on the UK government to take urgent action on poverty. Its message is a concrete example of a recent emphasis in the UK on the importance of “framing” poverty in relation to policy-making. The idea is that drawing on positive values held by the public, and using certain images to trigger different ways of thinking, could generate more support for pursuing anti-poverty policies. This Flash Report examines this communications strategy being adopted and promoted by some anti-poverty organisations.

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