In a new paper, our EMIN partners from the Antwerp University, together with their colleagues from the European Reference Budgets Network, demonstrate how reference budgets can be used to show what it means to live on benefits at the level of the poverty threshold (60% of the equivalised median income in a country). Using cross-country comparable reference budgets, they show that a decent standard of living is more in reach for people living on 60% of median income in richer member states, but that even adequate food and housing are barely affordable for people in the poorest countries, living on an income at the level of the threshold. The reference budgets also show that the poverty risk of certain groups such as children is underestimated, compared to other age groups. They also indicate that the poverty risk of homeowners is probably overestimated.
The research shows that reference budgets provide policy makers and NGOs with a strong foothold for assessing the adequacy of minimum income support and are useful compliments for the existing indicators of poverty and social exclusion.
Access the paper Ref-budgets-to-contextualise-the-at-risk-of-poverty-indicator-April-2017
18/03/2016 – The European Social Policy Network (ESPN) has just published a major new report, Minimum Income Schemes in Europe: a Study of National Policies. The report finds that minimum income (MI) schemes play a vital role in alleviating the worst impacts of poverty and social exclusion in many countries. However, in too many countries MI schemes still fall short of ensuring a decent life for the most vulnerable in society. Progress in improving them in recent years has been disappointing. Continue reading
The level of basic social security in Finland has improved both in real terms and compared to the wages in 2011–2015, but it is not adequate to cover reasonable minimum costs determined in reference budgets. Reforms in benefit and tax legislation during 2011–2015 have decreased the income inequalities and the poverty risk. This was the conclusion of the second expert group for evaluation of the adequacy of basic social security whose report is now released in English. While welcoming the minor improvements in 2011-2015, the key question for social NGOs is how is it going to be in 2015-2019.
The report is the result of an internationally exceptional piece of legislation which entered into force in Finland in 2010. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health have to commission every fourth year an evaluation of the development of the adequacy of basic social security from an independent evaluation group. The first evaluation report was released in 2011 and it generated international interest among researchers and experts, which indicated the need to make the report available to English as well. The second evaluation report was released in February 2015 and is now available in English.
Adequacy of basic social security in Finland 2011–2015. The second expert group for evaluation of the adequacy of basic social security. Kela Research Department. Working papers 80/2015. 143 pages. Helsinki 2015. ISSN 2323-9239.
New Eurofound study on non-take-up (or ‘non-give-out’) of social benefits may be of interest to you. This study identifies recent estimates of non-take-up in 16 Member States that vary considerably in terms of welfare state design. The study argues that it is likely that non-take-up is also an issue in the other 12 Member States. Estimates suggest that in each of the Member States identified, there is at least one type of benefit for which over one-third of people who are entitled to it do not receive it. Non-take-up is an issue for a broad range of benefits and is not restricted to those that are means-tested. This focus on non-take-up and the extent of non-take-up in comparison to miss use of social benefits, is very useful to counteract populists stories of exploitation of social benefits. Access the report at
In 2015, as part of the ‘DRIVERS for Health Equity’ project, led by EuroHealthNet, EAPN published a report, ‘synthesis of case-study evidence on income and social protection support and its links to health inequalities’. The report was produced with the Centre for Health Equity Studies (CHESS). Authored by Fiona McHardy with Olle Lundberg, this research undertook a case study approach exploring in a comparative country context, the impact of social protection system, both operations and provisions, on health inequality, in Hungary, Poland, UK, Sweden and Portugal. The research evidence indicated that income inadequacy was a core issue impacting individuals across the countries within the research and this often had negative impacts on their lives as subsistence did not allow them to meet their needs including health needs. The publication also includes a very useful EAPN toolkit on how to develop focus groups (Annex 2 – Page 31). Open the Report and Toolkit here
“Minimum Income as a building block to the right to a life in dignity. If there is no Minimum Income what hope is there for Europe?” these were the remarks of Hugh Frazer, Independent expert on Social inclusion, in his closing remarks at the recent EMIN European Conference.
The real opposition to adequate incomes for all is not lack of resources but is the dominance of competition as a value underpinning our political discourse and decision making for too long now. This is undermining cohesion and solidarity and has an enormous negative cost for European societies. I hope we collective remember what a treasure our ‘social security systems’ are, perhaps Europe’s finest achievement, even while we struggle to make them fit for the form of globalisation we are living through in this time.
It is true that as well as being simple comprehensive Minimum Income Schemes are also complex and change should be developed carefully. The national work of EMIN is preparing the ground for the needed positive changes as shown in the latest reports available from
EMIN Ireland (En) –
EMIN Finland (En)
EMIN Finland (Fin)
EMIN-FYROM Macedonia (En)
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. Continue reading