Can activation schemes work for social inclusion? This is the question to which the European Anti Poverty Network (EAPN) tries to answer in a recent position paper. According to the Network, the answer is ‘yes’ provided that these schemes aim to meet individual person’s needs, wishes and priorities.
The development of ‘activation policies’ is a general trend within the European Union. Activation of social spending, after having been applied to unemployment replacement income, is now applied more generally to social benefits, including minimum income. While repeating that employment is a way towards social inclusion, EAPN has already expressed its concerns regarding the way activation is sometimes implemented, which can lead to the reverse effect of increased levels of poverty and social exclusion.
In this debate, EAPN presents its own definition of what ‘good activation’ is, i.e. capable of delivering alleviation of poverty and social exclusion. This definition is based on the expertise of its members, some of them being actively involved in the implementation of social inclusion policies as well as employment policies.
‘Good activation’ means:
1. Improving personal, social and vocational skills and competencies and enabling to further social integration
2. Individualised and flexible offers taking the whole person into consideration and acknowledging diversity of age, experience etc.
3. Relevance of the offer for the individual person’s needs, wishes and priorities
4. Aiming to overcome or compensate for the excluding forces in society
5. Wide range networking with relevant actors at local level, such as actors on the labour market, health care services, social services, housing sector, communities etc.
6. Respecting the individual’s identity and self-respect
7. Achieving quality compared to ambitious social standards
8. Raising status
9. Building on reciprocity between the individual and the (municipal) agency
10. That the planning, the design and the implementation of activation is carried out in co-operation and interaction between the claimant and the (municipal) agency
11. Involving the resources and strengths of the claimants
12. Using adequate social income, including minimum income, as a positive tool likely to guarantee the security needed for activation. Benefits should be used also as a positive incentive to face the extra costs and risk when resuming a job after unemployment.
Note: See the full position paper.
For further information, please contact Claire Champeix (Policy Officer) or Vincent Forest (Information officer), tel. +32 2 230 44 55 – fax. +32 2 230 97 33 – E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org – Website: http://www.eapn.org/