National Report on Strategies for Social Protection and Social by twoturntables

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									An EAPN Malta brief reaction to Malta’s National Report on Strategies for Social
Protection and Social Inclusion 2008 – 2010, financed by the European Anti-Poverty
Network (Europe) and SOS Malta

Issued on: 17th October 2008


Civil society plays an important role in ensuring government’s accountability
towards its citizens, and that it meets its legal obligations and commitments to
protect and realize the human rights of the whole population in a non-
discriminatory way. Indeed, civil society in Malta can influence policy making,
deliver services where the state will not, tackle prejudice and change behaviour.
Key civil society groups have an important role to play in helping excluded
groups exercise their rights and obtain redress where this is not happening.

To this end, this report is a concise reaction that maps out key concerns and
recommendations on Malta’s National Strategies Report 2008 – 2010 in the hope
that the document is revisited and revised before final submission to the
European Commission.

General reactions:

         The NSR fails to address specific targets and commitments in view of
          the 2010 EU year against poverty
         The 15-day consultation period is short. Moreover, disadvantaged
          groups may not be able to access the document on line or print off a
          copy
         The document states that the working group involved in the
          preparation process included, among others, one NGO representative.
          It is reasonable to expect that Non Government stakeholders are
          informed that they are represented on the NAP working group.
         The consultation process needs to have a wider dimension in view of
          effective mainstreaming of active inclusion in all policy area


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          The document fails to provide a link between the challenges
           documented in the NSR 2006 - 2008 and outcome of the challenges
          There is a lack of synergy between the NSR and the National Reform
           Programme 2008 - 2010
          The style of the document reflects previous reports which provide
           ideas and principles rather than measurable targets, specific persons
           involved and definitive time frames
          The contribution of a study of vulnerable groups and their concerns,
           undertaken by SOS Malta on behalf of EAPN Malta with the aim of
           giving a voice to disadvantaged groups, is missing in the NSR

Key policy priorities:

          A clear, detailed road map is needed which sets out how and when the
           Active Inclusion strategy will deliver on its objectives, be implemented
           and monitored through the OMC and driven by active participation of
           stakeholders, including people experiencing poverty
          Active inclusion measures should guarantee adequate minimum
           income for a dignified life, regardless of employment status, and
           affordable access to quality services
          Explicit new measures are needed to promote adequate family income,
           and key services that include universal childcare and dependent care
           services
          Urgent action is needed to challenge discrimination among migrants
           and third country nationals and promote diversity
          Specific measures for the implementation of the right to affordable,
           decent housing for discriminated and excluded groups
          Integrating the specific needs of men and women respectively in
           policies that address socially excluded groups
          Reference to forthcoming ESF projects is essential since they should
           feed into the NAP
          Commitment to funding policy priorities for vulnerable groups must not
           be vague but need to provide clear and precise targets
          Access to services does not only include access to social benefits but
           also to financial, recreational and other services that improve the
           quality of life and well being of the most vulnerable in society


Key proposals on process

          Develop plans not reports by putting into practice participatory planning
           and policy development processes involving all stakeholders in an on-
           going structured dialogue on the development, delivery, and evaluation
           of anti-poverty strategies, rather than static reports
          Spell out what is going to be done, by when, and with what financial
           resources and budget methodologies


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         Invest in more effective partnerships by financially supporting NGOs
         Link the planning and consultation processes on the NRP and the
          NAPs
         Create specific tools for monitoring and evaluating the NAP with all
          stakeholders

Access to structural funds

         The monitoring and evaluation arrangements outlined in the NSR are
          vague and lack a description of strategies to assess the impact of
          structural funds on the eradication of poverty and social exclusion
         Although NGOs are well placed to deliver on structural funds’ social
          inclusion objectives, especially in dealing with excluded groups, NGOs
          are facing obstacles that prevent them from living up to their full
          potential. These include:
          o Lack of information about the funds’ potential for NGOs
          o Lack of resources in application rounds, including partnerships and
              transnational brokerage, project planning and drafting, audit,
              reporting and dissemination
          o Partnerships between government and non governmental
              organisations are invisible
          o Difficulty to use the funds for micro-projects
          o Level playing field with government agencies and lack of
              acknowledgement of NGOs specificity and added value in
              delivering projects
          o Financial obstacles including financial risks, need for match-funding
              and pre-financing
          o Malta is still without a global grants mechanism designed to ensure
              that the funds reach those most in need, especially for purpose of
              local development

Recommendations on structural funds

         Develop a system which allows NGOs to access and manage
          structural funds. A system which allows the submission of small and
          medium sized projects which will implement the objectives outlined in
          the NSRF and OPII on a micro and community based level.
         The use of global grants which are part of the structural funds should
          be considered by Malta especially for NGOs. This allows better
          reaching out to small and local organisations, and overcome financial
          obstacles, as global grants systems often also include facilities in
          terms of co and pre-financing
         Develop systematic measures with the participation of civil society
          NGOs for social inclusion proofing and monitoring within the Structural
          Funds



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        Ensure the involvement of NGOs through technical assistance in
         Structural Funds
        Develop measures that allow for wider integration and empowerment
         of excluded groups
        Invest in social economy initiatives and inclusive entrepreneurship
         approaches
        Set up and enhance infrastructures directly linked to social inclusion

Access to employment

        The employment measures seem to be lost and sparse in the social
         inclusion section which also provides substantial repetition that derive
         from the previous NSR
        It is positive that the document is spelling out some of the needs of
         Immigrants and Third Country nationals, however, vulnerable persons,
         identified in the study of focus groups undertaken by SOS Malta on
         behalf of EAPN Malta, are missing e.g. lone mothers, ex convicts,
         widows and widowers, LGBTs, and the homeless
        The energy poverty debate seems of little priority on the political
         agenda. The NSR ignores the plight of more people who will end up in
         poverty due to high energy prices
        The mismatch between labour market activation and active inclusion is
         not well demonstrated in the report, where the success in decreasing
         the official unemployment rate is accompanied by low salaries and an
         increasing phenomenon of working poor

Recommendations on employment

        Ensuring that Active Inclusion is taken on specifically in employment
         policies e.g. develop specific support to social economy
        A section on illegal work in Malta: exploitation of workers and workers’
         health and safety needs as well as concrete proposals on how to
         eradicate these practices in Malta today needs to be added. It is urgent
         that vulnerable groups (especially irregular migrant workers) need to
         be protected from these practices. The standards of work for all
         workers are under threat the more these practices spread with
         impunity.
        The need for sensitization of employers and co-workers in regard to
         the problems and issues which socially excluded persons experience
         in general and possibly at the place of work
        The establishment of more structures which are aimed specifically at
         assisting groups of socially excluded persons in finding employment
         and in dealing with employment issues
        The introduction and implementation of more positive discrimination
         measures (policy, schemes and incentives for the employment of
         socially excluded persons)


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          The need to enforce measures that address the issue of underpaid
           third country nationals – an issue which is affecting third country
           nationals themselves as well as Maltese persons in terms of entering
           employment
          Policy aimed at the increased provision of flexicurity measures
          The need to address discrimination and stereotypical attitudes,
           particularly during interviews and at the place of work
          The importance of establishing volunteering structures which allow
           persons who are registered as unemployed (and receiving
           unemployment benefits) to gain hands-on skills which can also be
           recognised through a certification system

Access to social inclusion

          Despite discourse on enhancing children’s social inclusion and
           safeguarding the rights of children and young persons, the Children
           Act, drafted almost a decade ago, remains on paper
          The list of targets for promoting active inclusion fails to describe the
           implementation process or reflect an integrated multidimensional
           approach to the three pillars of Active Inclusion i.e adequate minimum
           income, employment and access to services
          Although the NSR commits itself to strengthen the voluntary sector
           through capacity building and consolidation of consultation processes,
           there is little evidence so far, that the more progressive approach to
           effective partnerships and the subsidiarity principle have made it into
           government’s strategies
          The need for customer-friendly and specialised training to be provided
           to government officials and persons dealing directly with socially
           excluded persons on issues of employment

Recommendations on social inclusion

          Even if social inclusion indicators have not been specifically set down,
           it is reasonable to encourage users’ involvement and personalised
           approaches to meet the multiple needs of people as individuals
          The urgent need for extended and more accessible childcare facilities
           and/or childcare schemes which cater specifically for socially excluded
           persons in various parts of the country
          The provision of specialised and targeted training (skills, adaptability,
           empowerment) for the different groups of socially excluded persons
          Improved transport facilities for socially excluded persons (disabled,
           etc) seeking to go to work, attend training courses/and or programmes
          Increased involvement and consultation of socially excluded persons
           themselves (or representatives) in policy and decision-making
           processes



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     Policy which seeks to ensure a substantial degree of complimentarity
      between the social benefit system and employment opportunities for
      socially excluded persons (i.e replacing the system as it is at present,
      where many socially excluded persons find that it pays more to simply
      remain on relief than to work and earn too little to get by)

Final remarks

The NSR for social protection and social inclusion in Malta needs to become
a more strategic instrument so as to ensure real impact on national policy and
on poverty. The preparation process of the report needs to become more
participatory by investing in promoting better governance and participation as
the prime means to increase national ownership as well as extending an
effective policy impact. This means both piloting and mainstreaming
innovative ways of promoting participative democracy and above all investing
in participation through ensuring adequate resources for and liaison with
relevant non government stakeholders. Developing a model of participation at
national level needs to be further strengthened in the preparation process of
the NSR through strategic involvement of people experiencing poverty and
exclusion, especially in the light of the forthcoming 2010 EU year against
poverty.



Compiled by Dr Frances Camilleri Cassar

Senior Researcher




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