Eight new Flash Reports prepared by the European Social Policy Network (ESPN) are now available and provide information on recent social policy developments in France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and Switzerland.
- In France, the government aims to boost the purchasing power of those in employment by increasing levies on retirement pensions and capital income. The measure is controversial, its medium-term consequences uncertain. One of the uncertainties concerns the impact on the way in which unemployment insurance will be managed by the social partners.
- In France, a new bill entitled “For the freedom to choose one’s professional future” is currently being debated in parliament. According to this bill, the unemployment insurance scheme will be mainly tax-financed.
- The new German federal government’s coalition agreement foresees the introduction of a “basic pension”. Since the level of the pension and the number of persons covered by it are rather limited, the plan will not help to tackle the decrease in income in old age or the rise in old-age poverty.
- A reform of the Luxembourg minimum income scheme will soon be voted on in parliament. The new benefit will put greater emphasis on labour market inclusion, be more generous for children and one-parent households and include additional housing support. Nevertheless, income improvements will remain limited.
- The new Dutch government is planning to replace the current wage subsidy with wage dispensation for employers hiring people with disabilities. The planned reform has sparked a national debate among stakeholders and political parties since it entails several disadvantages for workers with disabilities.
- The “Family 500+” programme in Poland, which was launched two years ago, resulted in a reduction of child and total poverty, and may have contributed to the increase in fertility. However, a decline of female labour activity, adverse exclusion effects and debatable inclusion of the rich combined with the high budgetary cost suggest that the programme needs revising.
- A government-commissioned investigation to modernise the Swedish parental leave benefit was recently completed. It suggests several changes to the current legislation (including higher “daddy quotas”), but it is uncertain whether many of these changes can be pushed through parliament.
- Switzerland is struggling to contain healthcare costs. After debates in the national parliament, the federal government is about to send reform proposals to stakeholders for consultation. In addition, some cantonal governments (in the French-speaking part of country) are considering a stronger role of the state in healthcare financing to keep costs under control and to provide equal and affordable access to healthcare services for all.