EASPD: Time for the EU Investment Plan to do more for social services
EASPD organised in the European Parliament (EP) the seminar "Implementation of the European Fund for Strategic Investment: unlocking investment for social services" [8-09-2016]. During the Seminar participants discussed how to ensure that EFSI can contribute significantly to social inclusion in Europe, in particular through investment in high-quality social services. The European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) aims to mobilise over EUR 300 billion of private investment in the real economy in the next few years. After one year implementation, the EIB claims that social infrastructure accounts for 4% of EFSI expenditure. According to research made by EASPD, this percentage primarily includes investment into hospitals and social housing projects, with little evidence of sufficient investment into social services. Mr Luk Zelderloo, EASPD Secretary General, stressed that “the social sector is in need of substantial investment due to the rising demand for quality care and support services throughout Europe”. “Most service providers find it difficult to get access to private funding, loans and bank guarantees”, he added. Ms Romana Tomc, host and member of the European Parliament, highlighted that “the main aim of EFSI should be to create growth, a dynamic labour market and well-being for EU citizens. There is a lot of demand for investment in social services. There is also money available with the banks. We now need to find ways of bringing them together”. She then called on EFSI to be a relevant tool to do so. Mr Thomas Bignal, EASPD Policy Officer, stressed the need to “modernise social services by investing not only in the development of community-based infrastructure but also in the training of staff”. He presented three recommendations that have arisen from the EASPD study “Unlocking the EFSI for social services” to help unlock EFSI investment into social services: (1) better targeting instruments to sector’s needs and capacity; (2) creating national/regional platforms to bring relevant stakeholders together and (3) the further inclusion of social services experts in EFSI procedures to better assess the quality of projects. In addition, speakers stressed the importance to build coalitions and networks between small and large social service providers to attract private investors. The representative from the banking sector pointed out that building on the capacity of service providers to understand and work with private financing is necessary if investment is to be unlocked. During the second panel, participants addressed the issue of monitoring and assessing the use of the fund and effectiveness of the mechanism. In that sense, Mr Georgi Pirinski, Member of the European Parliament, stressed that “there is a clear and urgent need first to introduce strict public accountability for the operations of EFSI in general and regarding the social services sector in particular. This is imperative given the severe needs for such investment and the fact that in this case EFSI is operating with resources provided by the EU budget”. All these messages come at an important time, only one week before Jean-Claude Juncker’s state of the union speech in front of the European Parliament [14 Sep] as President of the European Commission; as well as at the beginning of talks to extent EFSI beyond 2018. Related documents EASPD Study: Unlocking the EFSI for Social Services EASPD State of Play Briefing on EFSI and Social Services in English / in French Photo gallery of the seminar Video gallery and Presentations. Download the press release in pdf format Note to editors The European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities is a non-profit European umbrella organization, established in 1996, and currently representing over 12,000 social and health services for persons with disabilities. EASPD advocates effective and high-quality disability-related services in the field of education, employment and individualised support, in line with the UN CRPD principles, which could bring benefits not only to persons with disabilities, but to society as a whole. Contact Thomas Bignal, EASPD Policy Officer Rachel Vaughan, EASPD Communications Officer
EASPD New Study: Unlocking the Juncker Package for Social Services
EASPD announces its study on unlocking the Juncker Package (European Fund for Strategic Investment -EFSI) for the Social Services sector. The study provides practical steps and recommendations on how to ensure that EFSI supports the financing of projects in this sector, as well as an overall analysis of the barriers currently hindering this process; both from the perspective of social service providers and financial intermediaries. In 2015, the European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) welcomed the creation of the European Fund for Strategic Investment –otherwise known as the Juncker Package- to re-launch private investment into the real economy; and in particular the inclusion of social service providers as a target group. Although not a replacement for the essential adequate public funding for the delivery and continuity of high quality social services, EASPD views EFSI as able to play a complementary role to support the financing of certain specific projects in social services where private investment already plays a role. In such projects, EFSI can help to unlock better financial terms for social service providers when applying for support from a bank or other financial intermediary. However, up until December 2015, EFSI had yet to support a project in the field of social services, a missed opportunity in the eyes of EASPD. For this reason, EASPD commissioned a study divided into 5 separate reports looking at (1) the practical steps to gain access to EFSI for social service providers and financial intermediaries (report 1, 2 & 3), (2) the key barriers currently hindering this process (report 4) and (3) recommendations to the European Commission and the European Investment Bank (report 5). Based on this study, EASPD calls on the European Commission and the European Investment Bank to Provide information on the EFSI targeted to the specific needs of the social services sector to avoid a one-size-fits-all approach to the economy; Facilitate the creation of national one-stop-shops for the EFSI and to harmonise the process; Organise sector specific capacity-building and networking sessions between all stakeholders at national or regional level; Include experts in the field of social services in the European Investment Advisory Hub and the EIB’s internal social unit; and organise workships with civil society to exchange views on quality considerations in health and social services; Develop more flexible and adjustable administrative formats (grouping projects, etc) to facilitate uptake from smaller social service providers; Ensure that the EFSI is used to complement the financing of the EaSI programme and create synergies with the European Structural and Investment Funds. EASPD views these recommendations as key to unlocking the EFSI for the social services sector. Similarly, EASPD commits to take practical steps together with the social services sector to assess if certain projects could be supported by the EFSI and how this could be done. If all stakeholders manage to bridge the current gap, EFSI could be a significant new tool to finance innovation in the sector, investment in human capital and build or renovate much needed community-based social infrastructure. Relevant Documents EASPD Study: Unlocking the EFSI for Social Services EASPD Press Release in PDF Note to editors The European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities is a non-profit European umbrella organization, established in 1996, and currently representing over 12.000 social and health services for persons with disabilities. EASPD advocates effective and high-quality disability-related services in the field of education, employment and individualised support, in line with the UN CRPD principles, which could bring benefits not only to persons with disabilities, but to society as a whole. Contact Rachel Vaughan, EASPD Communications Officer Thomas Bignal, EASPD Policy Officer
EASPD: Social Inclusion must be a priority in Juncker Investment Plan 2.0
EASPD believes the extension of the European Fund for Strategic Investment must include a stronger focus on supporting and empowering those most disadvantaged in society to thrive. Supporting adequate investment into social infrastructure must be a priority for the European Union to achieve Jean-Claude Juncker’s social triple A for Europe. In a position paper launched today, EASPD outlines three major steps for EFSI to achieve this: capacity building for social actors, better targeting the social sector and earmarking for social projects. On 14th September, the European Commission proposed to extend and empower the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI 2.0), a European instrument aimed at unlocking billions of private investment into the economy. According to research made by EASPD, there is very little evidence of any significant investment into social services through this mechanism. Mr Thomas Bignal, Policy Officer EASPD, stated that “despite an increase in demand due to demographic and social changes, funding for social services has dropped in all EU countries. This has led to important gaps between current levels of investment and the much higher investment needs of many social services. Wasn’t the EFSI created to precisely meet these unmet gaps in investment?”. Earlier this year, EASPD published a study assessing how social services could access EFSI. Although the instrument is open to all sectors, the study demonstrated that the reality was far different with clear barriers for the sector to successfully access the instrument and under 1% of EFSI being invested into social services. To ensure that EFSI 2.0 fills in the investment gap for social services and contributes further to social inclusion in Europe, EASPD proposes amendments to the European Commission proposal for policy makers to consider. The amendments cover three main areas: Capacity building by significantly strengthening access to technical assistance at national and regional level; Better targeting by creating sectoral investment platforms at national and regional level for sectors with limited access to EFSI Earmarking for social infrastructure to support social and economic inclusion in Europe; in particular for the growing numbers of disadvantaged people and the over 120 million people living in poverty and social exclusion in Europe. Mr Luk Zelderloo, Secretary General EASPD, calls on Members of the European Parliament and the Council to “ensure that EFSI 2.0 makes a real difference for people in Europe and creates the right environment which will allow people and society to thrive” adding “what better way is there to do just that than by investing and modernising social services, schools, hospitals and social housing. This would create a win-win situation: creating new jobs and creating an enabling environment for all”. Related documents EASPD Proposed Amendments to EFSI 2.0 as proposed by the European Commission (November 2016) EASPD press release : Time for EU Investment Plan to do more for Social Services EASPD Study: Unlocking the EFSI for Social Services EASPD State of Play Briefing on EFSI and Social Services in English / in French Download the press release in pdf format. Note to editors EASPD is a non-profit European organisation, established in 1996, and currently representing over 12.000 social and health services for persons with disabilities. EASPD advocates for effective and high-quality disability-related services in the field of education, employment and individualised support, in line with the principles of the UN CRPD. EASPD promotes equal opportunities for persons with disabilities through the provision of individualised services. The EASPD network supports and promotes the structural cooperation with all stakeholders in society as well as innovation in the sector. EASPD also calls for fair working conditions and training for professionals working in services for people with disabilities.