The Hague, House of Europe, 4th of October 2018
Under the title ‘Minimum wage and poverty, hand in hand?’ EMIN Netherlands organised a well-attended conference in the House of Europe in Den Hague on 4 October. EMIN project leader Jo Bothmer explained in his welcome that this means that incomes from the Participation Act, the State Pension Act and the Survivor Act need to be increased by at least 5% extra in order to guarantee a dignified life. There are groups in society, such as the growing group of the working poor (340.000) that cannot survive because of the low level of income and existing social problems.
Anne Van Lancker, EMIN policy coordinator, presented the state-of-play of the EMIN project. Even when all EU countries now have a minimum income system, differences are big, as well in terms of design, eligibility, levels of payment, coverage and take-up. Only a few countries have adequate minimum income schemes. Often 20-75% of the potential beneficiaries has no access to the schemes due to strict conditions. Anne advocates to create social protections floors, including decent minimum income, to avoid the income levels to gradually fall below poverty levels. She explains what EMIN has done to contribute to that objective. With the slogan ‘Many voices make the choir strong!’, she makes it clear that European citizens can act together forcefully to advocate the need for an adequate minimum income with their government. Continue reading
Trade unions and social protection experts from around the world have come together in Brussels this week to identify how financing social protection can and should be strengthened. Representatives from over 30 trade unions, along with academics, civil society organisations, government officials and international organisations discussed the range of options that governments have at their disposal to finance the extension of social protection to all people. They agreed that social protection floors for all are financially feasible in all countries and that governments need to get their priorities right to fund them.
See the full press release here: https://www.ituc-csi.org/ituc-meeting-of-experts-confirms
On average over 16% of European Social Fund (ESF) is identified for supporting Active Inclusion. Active Inclusion is considered to be approaches which foster the participation of people distant from the labour market by addressing the barriers to their participation including through access to essential services, adequate income and accessible labour markets. At a joint meeting of the Thematic Network on Inclusion (part of the ESF Platform) and the European Minimum Income Network (EMIN) to be held in Madrid on 20 and 21 September, representatives of Managing authorities and stakeholders will come together to discuss and share information on how this aspect of ESF is being developed and implemented. Examples from Spain, Italy, Slovenia and Belgium will inform the discussions. Examples of the application of the active inclusion approach will also be given from Denmark and Netherlands. Recommendations on how to strengthen and further develop this approach will be developed at the meeting. To ensure you receive the report of the meeting and other related information sign up to follow: http://ec.europa.eu/esf/transnationality and www.emin-eu.net
The European Minimum Income Network (EMIN) brings together representatives of Administration and stakeholders from 8 countries to share ideas and practice about the use of reference budgets for policy purposes. Antwerp University is hosting and supporting the exchange of practice on 18 and 19 September. The Reference budgets being spoken about are priced baskets of goods and services that are needed to live in dignity and to participate in the society. The meeting will discuss current approaches to the use of Reference budgets and their comparability. The meeting will also discuss the use of Reference budgets for the assessment of benefit levels, for debt counselling, and for development of individual support services. A full report of the meeting and the recommendations developed will be available www.emin-eu.net in the near future.
At this head-to-head debate, organised by the European Policy Centre, speakers discussed these two ways of guaranteeing social protection and addressing the growing social challenges of today. Yannick Vanderborght, Professor of Political Science at Université Saint Louis and member of the BIEN board, defended the reasons why basic income is a good solution to avoid arbitrary distinctions between deserving and non-deserving poor, avoid stigma and shame that cause non-take-up, whilst at the same time avoiding poverty traps. Anne Van Lancker, EMIN policy coordinator, explained what adequate, accessible and enabling minimum income schemes could bring, not just to the people who need them, but to the whole of society. She made it clear that EMIN seeks to progressively change existing poor, conditioned and punitive systems into universally accessible income support as an essential element of social protection floors, that must ensure access to basic income security for all over the life cycle. She stressed that, when allocating public resources, priority should be given to systems that respect ‘progressive universalism’, ensuring universal rights whilst at the same time granting more help to people who really need it. It is clear that basic income scenarios require a lot more funding than lifting minimum income systems above the poverty threshold.
The debate showed clearly that, despite the difference between both proposals, there are also many common approaches to the issue of income security. Conclusions seem to be that on eliminating conditionality and ensuring individual rights, both proposals show more common ground than expected. Therefore, Anne expressed the wish to cooperate more closely between the two networks, to engage in discussions on new ways of looking at poverty eradication, quality of work and social protection and redistribution of income.
Atlas-of-Work-DGB-Germany jointly published by Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund (DGB, German Federation of Trade Unions) and Hans Böckler Foundation (HBS).
This Atlas of Work presents facts and figures about jobs, employment and livelihoods. It explains many aspects of how our working world is structured today, how it is in constant motion, and what opportunities we, especially policy makers, unions and civil society, have to change it. It contains a chapter on Basic Income. The Atlas offers a solid basis for discussion on work and social protection in the future.
EMIN successfully organized its first peer review on coverage and take-up of benefits on 13 and 14 March in Helsinki Finland. EMIN teams from Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, Portugal, Spain and UK participated and presented reports on the state-of-play in their countries. A general introduction to the subject was delivered by Anna Ludwinek from EUROFOUND, who published research on the problem. Special attention was also given to the basic income experiment that is running in Finland, since this could inspire policy makers on the advantages of less conditionality for benefit receipt. We were also inspired by the policy of Scotland where the government puts a lot of emphasis on the social right of people to receive the benefits they need. The presentations of all speakers and of national EMIN teams were published in our message of 27 March.