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.
Contrary to reports in the international press, the basic income experiment in Finland will continue until the end of 2018 as planned. During the experiment that was launched in January 2017, 2000 unemployed persons between 25 and 58 years who are chosen at random, receive 560€ monthly. If their previous income was higher, the basic income is topped up. They can keep the basic income also when they find a new job. The aim of the experiment is to see if basic income can increase employment and simplify the social security system. At the EMIN peer review on coverage and take-up, Olli Kangas from KELA, the social security administration in Finland, presented the experiment, in which EMIN took as particular interest because it significantly reduces conditionality attached to benefits.
However, the same conservative government that introduced the experiment in Finland doesn’t seem to support the experiment anymore. It will not expand the experiment in following years to cover more people and target groups, as requested by KELA research group and some NGO´s. On the contrary, the government has introduced more conditionality to unemployment benefits, so called “Active model”, which cuts around 5% of the unemployment benefits, if one fails to satisfy employment officials that they have either worked for 18 hours, participated in training or pursued entrepreneurship in a 65-day period. https://yle.fi/uutiset/osasto/news/punishing_people_for_lack_of_results_one_mans_fight_against_new_unemployment_benefit_rules/10003995
Two of the three parties in the government has also started to talk about new schemes, such as the universal credit, comparable to the UK scheme that is already proving to impose excessive conditions on people receiving the benefit, and thus creating a considerable risk for high non-take-up, pushing more people into poverty.
All this without even waiting for the evaluation of the basic income experiment that will be done after the end of this year. This proves again that often more conditionality in benefits schemes is imposed, without clear scientific evidence and for purely ideological reasons.
EMIN Finland -network is taking part in BIEN Congress, 24-26th August at Tampere, Finland https://events.uta.fi/bien2018/
– Kela: The Basic Income Experiment in Finland will continue until the end of 2018 http://www.kela.fi/web/en/news-archive/-/asset_publisher/lN08GY2nIrZo/content/contrary-to-reports-the-basic-income-experiment-in-finland-will-continue-until-the-end-of-2018?_101_INSTANCE_3a1vR0IztzeZ_redirect=%2Fweb%2Fen
– Honkanen & Pulkka: Tackling Poverty and Social Exclusion with Unconditional Money; Notes on the Finnish Basic Income Experiment https://helda.helsinki.fi/handle/10138/230917
On 24 April, we will launch our Bus Awareness Raising journey : 2 Buses, 32 Countries, 64 days, over 120 programmes and over a thousand volunteers are arranged to build awareness of the importance for the whole society of adequate, accessible and enabling Minimum Income Schemes. Follow our adventures on the blog www.eminbus.eu
The Peer Review on Coverage and Take Up took place on 13 and 14 March 2018 in Helsinki, Finland. The countries involved were Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Finland, Portugal, UK, Spain and Estonia.
The rich exchanges and debates were introduced by the following presentations:
- Presentation of EUROFOUND study on coverage and take-up by Anna Ludwinek
- Presentation of the Finnish efforts to simplify benefit systems and reduce non-take-up by Olli Kangas, KELA
- Efforts in Scotland to improve take-up through campaigns with ‘experience panel’ involving over 2000 people with experience of social assistance to help to make schemes more accessible
- Presentation of the Belgian case on take-up
- Presentations from Portugal, Bulgaria, Spain, UK and Croatia on their experiences with coverage and take-up and suggestions to overcome problems
- Video Walking the Tightrope of Benefit Sanctions from the Chesterfield Unite Community Branch.
The full report of this Peer Review will be posted on this blog soon!