Four new Flash Reports prepared by the European Social Policy Network (ESPN) are now available and provide information on recent social policy developments in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Spain and Lithuania.
- A Belgian law introduced in January 2019 provides the possibility for associations defending the interests of vulnerable groups to bring “collective judicial actions” before ordinary courts against private or public measures that risk undermining fundamental rights and freedoms. This opens up new possibilities for civil society organisations fighting against poverty.
- In June 2019, the Czech Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs completed the drafting of a new law, the Housing Allowance Act, which would merge the two current housing benefits from 2021. The aim is to end the so-called “poverty business”, to simplify the system and to better target those in need. However, the draft law includes controversial elements (e.g. very restrictive conditions and increased bureaucracy for assessing claims) that could hinder the next stages of the legislative process.
- In March 2019, the Spanish government adopted a new “National Strategy to Prevent and Combat Poverty and Social Exclusion”. This includes measures aimed at improving the income guarantee system and combating child poverty which have been positively assessed by non-governmental organisations. As it does not have a specific budget, its implementation will depend on the effective fund allocation and the degree of cooperation between the different levels of public administration.
- A new proposal aimed at increasing the marginal personal income tax rate and lowering the pace of increase of tax allowances in Lithuania was put forward by the members of the ruling coalition in late June 2019. The proposal is an important step towards preventing potential adverse effects of the recent tax reform on income inequality and the financing of social protection.