Response to EC Consultation

Brussels, 22nd April 2021

Social Services Europe: Response to the Roadmap for the Action Plan on Social Economy

Social Services Europe (SSE) welcomes this opportunity to submit feedback to the Roadmap. Given the significant size, scope and impact of the social services sector in the social economy, SSE calls on the Commission to develop an Action Plan that: acknowledges social service providers as key actors in the social economy; ensures they are supported legally, politically and financially; and supports and promotes all social economy actors as strategic partners, especially in terms of job creation, social impact, social innovation and social entrepreneurship. The Roadmap highlights the important role that social economy organisations play in each of these areas and this is also the case for social service providers, but they face significant challenges.

 

Social service providers are one of Europe’s biggest job creators with thousands of new jobs created each year, and this job growth is expected to continue. They provide essential care and support to millions of people in Europe; they contribute to at least 10 principles of the EPSR. Social services have a strong tradition of innovation in developing new strategies to meet existing needs and respond to new ones. Furthermore, the creation of social services is part of the entrepreneurship process where individuals identify needs and develop solutions.

 

However, many social service providers struggle with staff shortages, recruitment and the retention of the workforce due to underfunding. Some of the main issues include: an over reliance on women; poor wages; difficult working conditions: and insufficient staffing levels and training. This hampers their ability to provide quality services. If services are struggling to operate, they will neither be able to adapt nor innovate to continue to meet social needs and support the fulfilment of rights. The COVID-19 crisis has emphasised the need for social service provision and laid bare the systemic challenges social services face.

Adding to the initiatives in the roadmap, SSE recommends the following for the Social Economy Action Plan

  1. Foster a supportive ecosystem for the growth of all forms of social economy in Europe, with effective legal, political, and financial dimensions. This ecosystem should include stronger models of cooperation between all social economy actors.

  2. Improve access to specific EU funding for and sustainable investment in the social services sector through the ESF+, the Recovery and Resilience Facility and InvestEU.

  3. Develop an EU Recommendation on the definition of the Social Economy, ensuring specific reference to not-for-profit social services; as well as a series of supportive EU measures.

  4. Increase the visibility, recognition and significance of the social economy sector

  5. Consolidate and strengthen a permanent and structured dialogue between the EU and social economy actors

  6. Launch a Campaign for Jobs in the Social Economy

  7. Propose an initiative on social services of excellence (including long-term care) to set a framework for policy reforms

  8. Under the EU’s Agenda for Skills, support social economy actors, including social service providers, in their provision of training for staff and volunteers.

  9. Ensure that the EU’s taxation policy favours the development of all social economy actors and encourages Member States to take relevant steps.

  10. Establish a High Level Group on Social Innovation

  11. Promote social dialogue in the social economy, including social services

  12. Strengthen the Expert Group on social economy to ensure a stronger role is given to not-for-profit social services

  13. Ensure that more EU Funds are made available to support innovation in the social economy

  14. Create a short-term European Emergency Fund for Social Services

  • For access to the long version of Social Service Europe's contribution, please click here.