Brussels, 11 December 2014 – Delegates at the EU-level Conference held in Brussels today on ‘Minimum Income Schemes in Europe’ heard a very different story to the populist story of lazy people who cheat the welfare system. The figures given at the Conference on the non-take-up of minimum income assistance ranging from 20% to as much as 75%, are way and above those of over-take-up that receives much more policy and media attention.
The Conference presented information developed in thirty national reports and two thematic reports, one on the non-tale-up of minimum Income assistance amongst homeless people and a second on adequacy of incomes for older people.
People speak of their experience of living on Minimum Income
The conference was opened by two video presentations where people living on minimum income assistance told their stories. One video from Portugal told that in a year, more than 52 thousand beneficiaries have stopped receiving the minimum income assistance. In the second video from Denmark (a country with a relatively generous Minimum Income Scheme but where there has been severe cuts to the level available for people under 25) young people speak about their experience of minimum income assistance. One spoke about “minimum income as a genius thing” but the message was clear that money alone is not enough and that they need to be listened to and engaged in finding solutions to their problems and to help them fulfil their dreams.
Huge Variation in Generosity
The levels of payment available under Minimum Income Schemes show very great differences in degree of generosity, ranging from 22 EUR in Bulgaria to 1433 EUR in Denmark for a single person, and from 100 EUR in Poland to 3808 EUR in Denmark for a couple with two children. The question was raised Can the European Union survive such extreme inequality not to mention the inequalities within countries?
Adequate and Accessible Minimum Income Schemes good for everyone
The Conference participants also heard the findings from the national reports that asserted that adequate and accessible Minimum Income Schemes are not only good for the people who need them but also good for the whole of the society because of their: positive economic stabilisation effects, there positive impact on addressing inequality and their ability to assist people to remain active in the society.
A challenge to the new leadership in Europe
The Conference delegates heard from several speakers that the new leaders in the European Union must not only talk about social Europe but must implement practical steps to ensure a social and cohesive Europe. A call went from the Conference for the introduction of a Framework Directive on Adequate Minimum Income Schemes which was seen as a key test as to whether the talk of social Europe has any basis in reality.
Press and Media, Nellie Epinat, EAPN’s communications officer Nellie.firstname.lastname@example.org
+32 (0) 498 44 13 66
European Minimum Income Project Manager: Fintan Farrell +32 (0) 474 797934
Notes for the editor:
- See videos – Living on Minimum Income, Portugal and Denmark
- See EU Synthesis Report ‘Toward adequate and accessible Minimum Income Schemes in Europe’
- Conference Programme
- Opening Plenary – Introduction by: Chair Letizia Cesarini Sforza, Vice President EAPN
- Video Messages from activists with direct experience of poverty (Portugal and Denmark)
- Robin Hanan, EMIN Ireland Achievements and Lessons from the work of the EMIN Project
- Synthesis from the 30 National and 2 Thematic Reports: Anne Van Lancker, EMIN Policy Coordinator
- Proposed EU Road Map for the Progressive realization of Adequate Minimum Income Schemes: Fintan Farrell. EMIN Project Coordinator
- Christina Behrendt, ILO Social protection floors – Key elements and principles
|See photos from the event here|
The European Minimum Income Network (EMIN) was a two year project (2013-2014) sponsored by the European Parliament, funded by the European Commission, and promoted by the European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN).
The project aimed at building consensus to take the necessary steps towards the progressive realisation of adequate and accessible minimum income schemes in European Countries. The project also aimed to strengthen cooperation at the EU level in relation to the achievement of Adequate Minimum Income Schemes, in line with the European Commission’s Active Inclusion Recommendation of 2008, the Europe 2020 strategy and in the context of the European Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion and the EU Social Investment Package.
To know more about EMIN and to see all publications visit: http://emin-eu.net
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