new EU Fund to help cover the basic needs for the most deprived
COFACE welcomes the European
Commission proposal for a Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived and joins
the call of European NGOs urging Member States to support this proposal.
The number of families
experiencing extreme poverty is growing in the European Union and about 40
million of people in the EU are not able to meet their basic needs, despite
fight against poverty being one of the flagship initiatives of the EU2020 Strategy, a
strategy that should work towards a smart, sustainable and, often forgotten,
The European Commission has
proposed on the 24 October 2012, to set up a Fund for the Most Deprived. The
Commission foresaw a budget of €2.5 billion for the Fund during the period
2014-2020. The fund will finance the provision of food to the most deprived
people and clothing and other essential goods to homeless people and
COFACE believes that this
fund could directly support many families in alleviating extreme poverty. However,
this fund alone cannot be sufficient and therefore the EU and Member States
must as well concentrate on actions and policies aiming to prevent many more families from falling into poverty.
For more information on the
Read the press released
issued by social NGOs
poverty: parents’ employment is not enough!
Child and family poverty is
still a major concern in Europe. A European Commission Recommendation on Child
Poverty was expected for 2012 and it is now due for the beginning of 2013.
COFACE is looking forward to the publication of this Recommendation, which
will, in COFACE’s view, be a step forward in the process of combating family
and child poverty in the EU.
As an active stakeholder,
COFACE has been invited to intervene in the conference Investing in Children
organised by the Cyprus Presidency in Nicosia on 18-19 October
2012. COFACE was asked to present its view on how policies supporting families
can help preventing poverty. In this occasion, Paola Panzeri, COFACE’s policy
officer for family and social policies transmitted the COFACE position (see the presentation
), that a multi-dimensional approach is needed and that
parents’ employment alone is not enough to prevent family and child poverty.
Indeed, an integrated
approach enabling families to reconcile their work and family life will support
more sustainable and long-term solutions. To reconcile, in COFACE’s view, means
implement a mix of policies combining (1)
access and provision of resources, including benefits and allowances, (2)
access to quality, affordable and
accessible services and (3)
Finally, a clear point should
be made on promoting children’s well being and, at this regard, COFACE reacted,
with other stakeholders to the EPSCO Council conclusions of 4 October 2012 (see statement
Economic crisis and
suicide – Families hit twice
Statistical feedback from EU Member States since
the onset of the crisis in 2008 shows a worrying link between rising
unemployment and the suicide rate. Italy’s Association for Economic and Social
claims that one suicide every day may be
caused by the economic crisis in
Italy, where the number of jobless people taking their own lives rose by over
30% in 2010.
It is clear that things have taken a serious
turn for the worse in the four years since the WHO first warned political
leaders about the human toll taken by the crisis back in 2008.
The debt-ridden retired pharmacist in
Greece who committed suicide in central Athens leaving a note accusing the
Greek government with its EU-imposed austerity measures of "annihilating
any hope for my survival" is still fresh in the memory.
Broadly, the hardest-hit are men aged 45-65,
mostly fathers, heads of households and the main family breadwinner in
countries where female employment is not the norm. Some countries facing serious budget deficits
are thinking about or actually are cutting back their support services to
families when they need them most, especially when having to cope with the
tragic death of a loved one.
Many sociological studies have shown that the
family is ultimately the first
social safety net in an economic crisis. Our political leaders would do well not to forget
that. Families are paying the cost of the crisis in
more ways than one.
Family Poverty and child neglect – early intervention
As we are being
made hopeful, that the European Commission will eventually publish its
Recommendation on Child Poverty, (probably in 2013), the first studies and
findings are being published by NGOs, Intergovernmental organisations like the
UNICEF and research bodies on the impact of the austerity measures on family
and child poverty.
Earlier this year
warned that we are going backwards in meeting the 2020 target to eliminate
. Some families are struggling to provide the basics for their
children as families across Europe are
slipping into poverty.
doesn't stem from poverty. Neglect and other forms of abuse are present across
the whole of society, and many very poor people are also loving and caring
parents. But there is a complex link between the two issues. Many parents have
levels of resilience that help them to deal with these issues, especially if
they have access to wider support, but poverty can take them beyond the point
where they can cope and this can have a serious impact for their children. Lack
of hot meals during the day, or even lack of food, being alone at home while
parents are working, no extra-school activities, these can all be consequences
of the drop in disposable income, the loss of income, and cuts to available
If services are
unavailable to help parents who are slipping into poverty, children will
continue to suffer. Cuts to support for vulnerable families are a false
economy. The financial and human costs of providing early support are dwarfed
by the costs of letting problems spiral to the point where a child has to be
taken into care.
Now more than
ever, with tighter budgets and limited resources, we need effective early
interventions to help families thrive. Therefore we repeat what we always state
in all our publications and events, cuts to social services should be avoided,
and growth can only be relaunched in a society that is well and healthy.
Children and families should not be gambled with through budget cuts.
Recent data confirm that children are more vulnerable to poverty and social exclusion than other groups in the European Union, reporting a higher risk of poverty (20%) compared to the overall population (17%). The risk increases to 25% for children who live in large families, and exceeds 30% for the ones living with lone parents.
Poverty and social exclusion are largely known to be determined by socio-economic, cultural and environmental conditions that are often transmitted from generation to generation, with the consequence of deepening the income divide and perpetuating societal inequalities. Wellbeing in childhood largely shapes the future adult, recalling the need to prioritize children’s development.
COFACE stands for a recognition of the fundamental role that various policies supporting families can play for the prevention of poverty, breaking its inter-generational transmission and attaining the highest levels of child well-being. COFACE also stands for a coherent EU approach to family policies and the child-rights agenda at EU level and calls for the adoption of a Commission Recommendation on Child Poverty and Wellbeing by 2012.
Other key proposals include: the development of more accurate indicators to monitor the different dimensions of child wellbeing; the promotion of family-friendly employment policies, based on the principle of non-discrimination; the effective implementation of the Flagship Initiative ‘A European Platform against Poverty’; the establishment of common EU criteria for quality early years’ services; the full involvement of civil society, and in particular organisations representing children and families in the elaboration, implementation and assessment of all EU initiatives affecting them.
Published on 09 Nov 2011
Updated on 06 Nov 2012