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Responding to the economic crisis and austerity

Responding to the economic crisis and austerity

The European Social Network (ESN) launches the first in a series of four public management working papers looking at contemporary issues for managers and directors of Social services in Europe.

Contemporary issues in the public management of social services in Europe

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The European Social Network (ESN) launches the first in a series of four public management working papers looking at contemporary issues for managers and directors of social services in Europe. ‘Responding to the economic crisis and austerity’ presents insights and lessons from ESN’s monitoring work on how public social services at local level have responded to the crisis since 2009.

The economic impact on people and communities in many countries has been considerable, and increased demand coupled with reductions in public expenditure have impacted on social services and their ability to respond – whether in the general social protection system (unemployment, housing and other benefits) or in specialised social work and care services (mental health, disability, homelessness, addiction, etc).

Looking at the impact of the crisis, this paper shows that, whilst there are similarities in the challenges faced by the various countries, there are also many key differences, as are the opportunities available to reform and improve social services. It concludes with a set of key questions to help public managers in social services evaluate their response to the crisis and think strategically about the future direction and design of services.

The paper seeks to provide a wide geographical overview to include the Nordic countries, Central and Eastern Europe and the Southern Member States. It is based on discussions and reflections during ESN’s Recession Workshop in December 2009, ESN’s Spring Seminar 2011 in Budapest on ‘Innovative responses for challenging times’, ESN’s working group on Leadership, Performance and Innovation 2012-13, and ESN’s visits to Troika programme countries in 2013.

Responding to the economic crisis and austerity’ is the first in a series of four working papers entitled 'Contemporary issues in the public management of social services in Europe' that ESN will be publishing on a monthly basis; the other three topics are:

  • Innovation, research & evidence-based practice
  • Working with education, health and employment: recognising a shared agenda
  • Leadership & management in social services

The report series ‘Contemporary issues in the public management of social services in Europe’ is based on the work of ESN’s working group on Leadership, Performance and Innovation and outlines four key challenges for directors of social services and senior professionals across Europe: Responding to the economic crisis and austerity; Innovation, research & evidence-based practice; Working with education, health and employment: recognising a shared agenda; Leadership & management in social services.

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