The 13 key European Networks with responsibility for social services request Member States and the European Commission to invest in social services to promote an inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Together, we invite Member States to use the EU Budget and the Recovery and Resilience Fund to help those who have been hit hardest by the crisis, with whom social services often work: older persons, persons with disabilities, children and young people at risk of neglect or abuse, people at risk of poverty, homeless persons, migrants, and women suffering from domestic violence.
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the provision of essential care and support to millions of people in Europe, affecting the quality of life and human rights enjoyment of the millions supported. This has been particularly visible in nursing homes but has also had a devastating impact on many other forms of social support. As the sector is a major employer, it is also important to remember the hard work of the over 11 million professionals -5% of the EU workforce- involved in social service provision across the continent, often in very difficult conditions and putting their own health at risk.
The EU Budget and the Recovery and Resilience Facility provide opportunities for Member States to invest in social services and build up their resilience. However, our members on the ground highlight that this is not necessarily being the case and infrastructure is being prioritised over personal social inclusion programmes. This is partly due to lack of consultation with regional and local public social services and non-profit social service providers.
Therefore, we call on Member States and the European institutions to change direction and take full advantage of the opportunities the EU programmes create to invest significantly in the recovery and resilience of social care, social services and social support in Europe. This is necessary to ensure no one is left behind.
Luk Zelderloo, Secretary General EASPD and President of Social Services Europe, states “let’s be clear: on the evidence we have; Member States are not prioritizing the EU budget for a social recovery. Europe needs to make sure people get access to the social support they need. Right now, the priorities of Member States don’t seem to be going enough in this direction to meet the sector’s investment needs. This must change if we are to have an inclusive recovery and a strong, resilient social support system in Europe”
The 13 European organisations include the European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD), Social Services Europe (SSE), Caritas Europa, European Platform of National Non-Profit Umbrella Organisations (CEDAG), Eurodiaconia, European Ageing Network (EAN), European Network of Social Integration Enterprises (ENSIE), European Platform for Rehabilitation (EPR), European Social Network (ESN), European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless (FEANTSA), European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU), Federation of European Social Employers and Solidar.