Opinions of our partners on the crisis of Social Welfare services

Teresa Crespo. President of ECAS

Model change or just cuts

I am concerned about some of the changes that are taking place as a result of the new regulations that the government has recently enacted through the Fiscal and Financial Measures Act (2011 budget), or the Omnibus Act. The impression given by the proposal of the latter law is that more than as its title indicates it is not a law of simplification and improvement of regulation, but it seems that its aim is to find ways to reduce social spending, and one of them is to limit the access of some people to the benefits or services that our welfare state structured and guaranteed based on subjective law.

From the promulgation of the different social laws, and especially with the Law of social services and the portfolio of social services where the guaranteed services were fixed, and the Law of Promotion of the Personal Autonomy and Attention to the People in situation of Dependence a welfare model was set up, which represented a great advance due to its universal and guaranteeing character. These principles define our welfare state and oblige the public authorities to finance guaranteed benefits, and therefore expand their budgets due to social needs. Today, however, it seems that this progress, which we are proud of, which was achieved with the consensus of all political parties, is in danger.

There has been a lot of talk about cuts in social policies, and although I think these are not the best option for balancing budgets, because it mortgages social cohesion and leads to greater inequalities in the future, I could accept that at some point and conjunctural way it is necessary to apply some savings measures. But what worries me now is that along with budget cuts, legal changes will be made that will erode the foundations of the social policy model we have been building in previous years, signifying a weakening of social rights and guarantee systems. in the access to the benefits and services of social protection with modifications of the regulation of the subjective rights and a greater fragility of the principle of universality.

Some of the cases that may illustrate this finding of the new regulation of the rights to a service or benefit is the modification of the conditions required to access it, increasingly harsh and stricter. The length of residence of immigrants in Catalonia to access social benefits or medical services is increasing. In the case of the minimum insertion income, prior proof of need is required, a period of 12 months of lack of income is required to be able to receive a minimum insertion income, incompatibilities are defined with other aids or benefits, and the aid is conditioned to the availability of the corresponding budget item, forgetting the subjective right of the protection of the state that the laws recognize to all citizen.

A new example of this trend has been the unique and universal benefit to families, which was created as an instrument of family policies, and today has become a specific aid for those families who do not exceed an income of 12,000. € per year, and therefore becomes a social aid for the most needy, forgetting the universal character that was intended to give when it was created.
In short, it denotes a weakening of public responsibility to respond to social needs understood as a subjective right of citizenship, and is moving from universal services to services for the poorest, thereby, without wishing to we can find ourselves again in a society much more divided between the poor and the rich, with specific services for some or for others that more than responding to needs causes greater differences.

We are in a very difficult time financially, and we know that it is necessary to reduce public spending, but this reduction should not blur the model of well-being that we have all been building and that has taken a lot of effort and many years. It would be necessary to delimit very well in time and in the concepts which benefits or aids can suffer a reduction, and which others that affect the rights indicated by our laws, must remain immovable until one day the consensus of the citizenry and its representatives in Parliament they can decide whether a change has not been made today.

 


 

September 21, 2011

M. Dolors Renau 

 

The reduction of economics to a kind of great accounting betrays the broader conception of economics, as a social science.

There is political life beyond economics and finance. We have fallen into the trap of gradually replacing the political narrative with a language that has reduced its vocabulary and syntax to a few macroeconomic terms that are repeated with variants within a kind of global design that is difficult to understand. The majority of citizens perceive this language as a growing threat: dark clouds that, fatally, are covering the horizon of personal and collective life and against which, fatally, we can not defend ourselves, as if from a curse was treated. References to deficits and indebtedness, which seem to be born of fatality, seem to have become the only explanation for all our present ills. And its reduction or disappearance, in the only possible way of salvation. The language and the one-dimensional message they convey, fill, to the point of overflowing, all the public space until it crumbles. And we run the risk of believing that in the world of the public there are no other components, other determinants, capable of awakening forces to change the course of collective affairs. But it is not so. On the one hand, the reduction of the economy to a kind of great accounting betrays the broader conception of economics, as a social science: a science that, in order to function well, should take into account advances in others. social sciences: in psychology, history, anthropology and ethics, for example, so that they clarify what this means of ns that in the world of the public there are no other components, other determinants, capable of awakening forces to change the course of collective affairs. But it is not so. On the one hand, the reduction of the economy to a kind of great accounting betrays the broader conception of economics, as a social science: a science that, in order to function well, should take into account advances in others. social sciences: in psychology, history, anthropology and ethics, for example, so that they clarify what this means of ns that in the world of the public there are no other components, other determinants, capable of awakening forces to change the course of collective affairs. But it is not so. On the one hand, the reduction of the economy to a kind of great accounting betrays the broader conception of economics, as a social science: a science that, in order to function well, should take into account advances in others. social sciences: in psychology, history, anthropology and ethics, for example, so that they clarify what this means ofsocial . What does it mean to consider human beings, to know of their ambitions and failures, of responsibilities and struggles for power, or what does this word that often appears in reference to markets express: trust . Luckily some wise economists have built a broader vision and remind us of it from time to time.

On the other hand we cannot allow the policy to be reduced to petty accounting. According to Arendt, politics is what makes us fully human, that makes us responsible for the collective side of our lives. And while collective human life is made up of many and complex components, it would be good to remember some of them that do not depend strictly on economic flows or financial speculation: terms such as community, personal and group relationships, solidarity, leadership, truth, honesty, empathy, righteousness, truth. personal ethics, rights and duties … and many others, are part of the baggage of organizations and people who possibly now, bewildered, cannot identify with the reduced version that is being offered.

We need to rediscover discourses and practices that, history tells us, have been able to drive great social transformations aimed at making the world a more livable space. Attitudes that have been at the core of what Victoria Camps calls public virtues . If we do not broaden the horizons of political thought and culture, if we do not nurture it from the analysis of what has historically served us to become more human, progress and hope will end. And we will be left with the shell of weak institutions that will yield, more and more, to the pressures of what we call markets . We will let another dictatorship occupy a territory that is ours.

Part of the public unrest stems from the lack of narrative and political proposals capable of awakening human-sized desire, strength and hope. It is urgent to rethink, from head to toe, what a wide and strong space must be given to politics understood as the backbone of collective affairs.

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