European active welfare models are currently under severe strain. The progressive increase of social needs, in terms of rising levels of unemployment, rapidly ageing population, increasing number of NEETs, immigrants and refugees, has been matched by a continuous contraction of public budgets that has limited the ability of public authorities to invest in public services. As a result, Member States across Europe are struggling to meet these new societal challenges.
The EU institutions have prompted Member State to tackle the issue by adopting innovative financial mechanisms, such as social bonds and social impact bonds (SIBs), aimed at connecting public-private and third sectors to mobilise new resources for welfare spending. The spread of privately funded welfare provisions has been included in the key priorities of the European agenda after the end of the Strategy 2020, as clearly stated by the 2021-27 Multiannual Financial Framework.
The most innovative financial instruments for social impact, however, are commonly unknown or little-understood by relevant stakeholders, hindering the spread of such measures. Against this background, the project put into action a far-reaching information and dissemination plan to align knowledge on financial innovation for active welfare policies and further develop understanding of its potentiality and its challenges.
The information and dissemination plan employs an innovative methodology based on the use of a theoretical, practical and interdisciplinary approach, perusing three main goals:
1) development of theoretical knowledge and practical competences among relevant stakeholders:
public administrations, cooperatives and other social private organisations, trade unions and employer organisations, university students and the general public;
2) enhancement of mutual learning between academics and practitioners, advancing research on the subject;
3) improvement of teaching courses on social welfare, as the project will prompt awareness that social finance represents the new frontier of public-private partnerships.