Stop the cost-of-living crisis from harming Social Service provision
Today, the European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) launches its new snapshot report that examines the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on support services for persons with disabilities, paying special attention to rising energy costs. The report provides initial information about the measures taken by service providers to mitigate these rising costs, as well as insight into initiatives started by governments to help service providers. The report also warns against inaction from authorities towards social service providers, stressing the negative consequences on both the continuity and the quality of support provided.
The report is based on interviews with stakeholders in eight European countries conducted in October 2022, and aims to provide a general overview – a “snapshot” – for European policymakers and stakeholders interested in this field.
The report first warns against the particularly high-risk position of many persons with disabilities during this cost-of-living and inflation crisis for various reasons, such as the higher percentage of persons with disabilities in, or at risk of, poverty and the additional cost of disability, including the necessary higher energy consumption of some persons with disabilities. The report investigates how the current cost-of-living crisis affects service providers for persons with disabilities, elaborating on the measures they have taken, or ones they are pushing for their public authorities to adopt, such as financial, organisational and resource management measures.
Worryingly, it paints a bleak picture of a sector already struggling from years of chronic under-funding, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and staff shortages, all of which are now exacerbated by the rapidly increasing cost of living (energy, food, staff, etc). The assessment of public support shows a mixed picture. Some authorities recognise the challenges being faced and are providing adequate support via, for example, compensation for the additional costs. However, many others ignore the situation and are forcing service providers – mostly NGOs – to find solutions themselves. Not only does this inevitably put the quality of the service and innovation at risk, but it also threatens the continuity of service provision itself. This, of course, continues to have major negative implications on the lives of those being supported by these organisations.
As we can see in wider society, the cost-of-living crisis has pushed service providers to reflect on ways to become more sustainable and energy-efficient moving forward. In this sense, the crisis may be a gamechanger in terms of its role in sustainability. However, service providers often struggle to gather sufficient (public) support to actually make the necessary changes.
Launching the report, Maya Doneva – Secretary General EASPD – said, “There are no two ways to say it: the cost-of-living crisis is really putting quality, innovation and continuity at risk in social service provision. Yes, service providers need to increase their efforts to become more energy efficient – but an organisation can only go so far with limited support and funding. If you are focused on survival, you are not thinking about investing in green energy or buying locally-grown produce, as important as these measures may be.”
Following up on Ms Doneva, Thomas Bignal – Head of Policy EASPD – continued by stating that “we need a two-step approach. The first should focus on emergency measures for persons with disabilities and their support services, including financial support for the increased costs. The second step should then focus on building up the resilience of the social services sector: more funding, better working conditions, and helping service providers become more energy efficient! Each level – local, national and European – has a role to play. Let’s make sure we all play it.”
To find read the full report, click here
- Initial Snapshot Report: The impact of the rising cost of living on service providers in the disability sector
For more information, please contact:
Head of Policy
+32 2 233 77 23
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 20,000 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.
The information contained in this publication does not necessarily reflect the official position of the European Commission.