The European Social Network (ESN) continues with its monitoring work on the impact of the crisis in public social services and publishes this paper with figures and data provided by members on how public social services have been affected by austerity policies from 2008 to 2014.
For the past 6 years, the crisis has been affecting public services across Europe. Monitoring how the crisis has impacted upon public social services provision has been an important part of the work undertaken by the European Social Network (ESN) in the framework of our programme of mutual learning and policy implementation.
ESN started its work on the impact of the crisis in public social services in 2009 with the workshop ‘Changing priorities: managing social services in times of crisis'. In 2012-2013, we visited our members in Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Spain, where we could see the scale and depth of social emergency for ordinary people in these three countries, which were particularly affected by the economic crisis. In 2014, ESN published the working paper 'Responding to the economic crisis and austerity' that, looking at the impact of the crisis, assessed the challenges faced by a number of European countries as well as the opportunities available to reform and improve social services.
In 2015, ESN publishes its paper 'Public social services in crisis: challenges and responses', which provides data and figures on how the crisis has had an impact on public social service provision from 2008 to 2014 in the following countries: Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Portugal and Spain. In some countries, public social services tried to react to decreasing revenue and increasing demand by keeping frontline services as they were and seeking efficiency gains elsewhere (e.g. administrative staff, training, salaries). However, in other cases they had to concentrate on emergency measures, while access to services and benefits and eligibility criteria were tightened. The crisis has also been an opportunity to re-think the role of social services and the responsibilities of people and the state.