New Flash Reports – European Social Policy Network

New Flash Reports by the European Social Policy Network – Summaries

ESPN Flash Report – Belgium – Poverty impact of fiscal consolidation measures (2015)
The fiscal consolidation measures taken by the new Federal and Regional (Flemish) governments are criticised by the opposition, trade unions and social NGOs for widening the gap between low-income households on the one hand and middle and high-income households on the other hand.

ESPN Flash Report – Lithuania – Towards the deinstitutionalisation of the State childcare system in Lithuania (2015)
The broad reaction of the mass media to the incidents in boarding schools, the President’s criticism of the Minister for Social Affairs and Labour for delaying the reform of the residential State childcare system and a recent Report of the National Audit Office have relaunched discussions on deinstitutionalisation of the State childcare system in Lithuania. The Minister for Social Affairs and Labour has assured the public that deinstitutionalisation will be achieved by 2020, i.e. 10 years earlier than originally planned.

ESPN Flash Report – United Kingdom – Devolution, decentralisation and integration of health and social care (2015)
In March this year, the UK Treasury and the political leaders of the 10 Greater Manchester local authorities signed an agreement that will decentralise control of a budget of £6bn a year to the English Greater Manchester city-region and willintegrate the healthcare and long-term care budgets. There is considerable scepticism about the likely success of the proposed integration in improving efficiency and securing savings and extensive concerns about governance.

ESPN Flash Report – Serbia – Reconciling family care and work (2015)
An initiative to increase the health insurance benefits for a parent caring for a child diagnosed with cancer has now been ongoing for two years, without positive results. Although the evidence proves that the proposed amendments are justified, the current fiscal consolidation measures are the greatest obstacle to a positive outcome.

ESPN Flash Report – Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – The amended Law on compulsory social contributions: Inconsistencies and rigidities  (2015)
The recently adopted changes of the Law for compulsory social contributions (Official Gazette of RM 180/14) extend, as of January 2015, the obligation of paying social security contributions towards incomes from temporary service contracts and copyright contracts. By contrast, the changes introduced do not open access to all rights from the social insurance system for temporary service workers/copyright contracts and may worsen the already high unemployment and poverty rates in the country.

ESPN Flash Report – Italy – The Emilia-Romagna Regional Fund for Long-term care (2015)
The Emilia-Romagna Regional Fund for Long-term care (LTC) represents a good example of how to tackle the issue of an increasing ageing population with dependency problems. The Fund provides a good balance between an investment in traditional services and one in new services, as well as an integration between cash allowances, service provision and the inclusion of private care workers in the public LTC system.

ESPN Flash Report – Estonia- Work capacity reform – change in the assessment criteria  (2015)
On 19th November 2014, the Estonian Parliament adopted a first package of laws that will implement the “work capacity reform” as from 1st January 2016. The reform aims at tackling the growing number of people receiving disability pensions, which has increased to 12% of the working-age population in Estonia, by introducing a qualitative shift from evaluating “incapacity for work” to assessing the person’s actual “ability to work”. Simultaneously, there is a shift from passive payment of work incapacity pensions to more active labour market measures. There will also be a stronger link between benefits and activity criteria.

ESPN Flash Report – Latvia – Establishing an adequate and methodologically justified minimum income level (2015)
A new minimum income threshold is due to come into effect gradually, as of 2017.The aim of the reform is to establish a minimum income level that appropriately reflects the socio-economic situation and that can serve as a reference point for improving policies in the areas of social assistance, unemployment, pensions, benefits and taxes.

ESPN Flash Report – Liechtenstein – Reform of the occupational pension system in 2015: safeguarding financial stability to avoid pension system crisis  (2015)
Liechtenstein’s pension funds are facing fundamental challenges related to the ageing of the population and the low interest level on the capital market. In order to cope with these challenges and to improve sustainability, reforms are envisaged which should be effective as from 2016. The reform package consists of an increase of the contributions, a reduction of the affiliation threshold, an earlier beginning of the insurance contribution and an upward adjustment of the pensionable age.

ESPN Flash Report – Poland – Shortening waiting times in oncology treatment (2015)
Responding to the problem of long waiting times and high mortality rates due to cancers, the Polish government introduced a “waiting time and oncology treatment package” in January 2015. The package aims at improving early diagnosis of cancers and shortening waiting times for specialised treatment.



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