A new project for more effective social protection

Nov 4, 2014

photo: undp croatia

The project „The Synergetic Social System“ aimed at contributing to building a better and more efficient social protection system in Croatia based on the data collected on all programs of social benefits at the level of local and regional self-governments was presented on October 30 in Zagreb. The project is implemented by the Ministry of Social Policy and Youth in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Croatia. 

Although social spending at the national level has not been decreased over the past years despite the unfavorable economic situation in the country, there was an increase in the number of vulnerable citizens. Research by UNDP and the World Bank from 2010 shows that the economic crises annulled all effects of the economic growth recorded in the pre-crisis period and downgraded living standards a few years back. The latest data indicates a number of 850 000 citizens living in relative poverty. 

Nevertheless, there is little evidence that social protection measures fulfill their purpose that is poverty reduction and its prevention. As of 2010, the total social spending in Croatia amounted to 20,8 percent of the GDP, but the structure of expenditures show that only 2 percent of the BDP is devoted to social assistance for the poor and socially excluded. The project therefore seeks to establish more effective ways to help citizens and to plan better social programs in their communities. 

The data on social services and financial assistance schemes at the level of counties, cities and municipalities will be collected and analyzed on how much funding is devoted to social programmes and for what purpose. Also, the terms to exercise the right to social services at a local level will be established. Fees and programmes designed to meet the needs of citizens are to some extent financed from the state budget, but responsibility for co-financing lies within the local and regional government, which was pointed out at the presentation of the project. 

The project is related to the recommendations from the European Commission on the implementation of revision of the tax-benefit system, as well as the reactivation of inactive and unemployed people. The analysis that will be conducted by a special working group should in the end contribute to more efficient and modern social welfare systems, easier access and better efficiency of social services and cash benefits at the level of local and regional self-government, emphasized Hrvoje Sadaric, Assistant Minister of Social Policy and Youth. 

„This is just one step so that we can better understand the comprehensiveness of the social welfare system, to help local communities in order to fulfill the needs of its citizens and to contribute to the eradication of poverty and regional disparities,“ said Jasmina Papa, UNDP's Social Inclusion Programme Officer. 

The project implementation started on October 1 as part of the European Union Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity – PROGRESS. The project is worth EUR 159.633, and it will be implemented during the next six months.