Social services in Europe face many challenges – and Angela Merkel insists on repeating that Europe contains 7% of the world's population, accounts for 25% of its wealth, and spends 50% of the world's total spending on social services. If the continent is to avoid persistent recessions and austerity, It must consider more assertive options.
The first challenge is to use our collective intelligence, There are plenty of tools available to involve more people in the process of designing and implementing social welfare policies, including online platforms such as https://challenges.org/. At their best, these tools leverage the experiences and expertise of service users and customer service staff to contribute to overcoming challenges. This is because it places community members at the core of the social services it designs.
The second challenge is to commit to testing and experimentation. No one can tell which social welfare models are better 10 or 20 years from now only using one means: testing and experimenting. The governments of Finland and Canada are at the forefront of considering alternatives to national policies that are imposed in descending order. The Governments of these States seek, Along with the governments of Scotland and the Netherlands, To test and experiment with innovative schemes such as a unified basic income in the hope of finding a more accessible and equitable way to support individuals without discouraging them from looking for a job or volunteering. We have to answer many questions in this regard, starting with the scalability of these initiatives and ending with their behavioral impact. Trial and testing here provide the perfect tool.
thirdly Governments should get the most out of digital technologies, We are used to integrating technologies into our daily activities such as shopping, travel and transportation, but government services can use similar platforms powered by digital technologies.
For example, The Nesta Foundation's ShareLab Fund has supported a range of promising ideas such as TrustonTap , a platform that connects independent caregivers with Oxfordshire seniors who want to stay at home and empower them and their family members to make informed decisions about the healthcare they receive. Another example is the GoodSam app, which uses a smartphone to alert volunteer doctors and nurses outside their working hours and notify them of nearby medical accidents while the ambulance service is called. Performing artificial respiration within seconds of someone having a cardiac arrest has a significant effect on increasing their chances of survival.
In another example, The Center for Social Work Innovation has supported dozens of entities that encourage community members to complement the work of school staff, criminal justice system and health services, promising a future in which government services overlap with community members themselves.
fourthly Governments need to act smarter about data. While private sector business models rely on data, Government and non-government entities are still lagging behind in recognizing the vital role of data in supporting their work. Some local authorities have come to prove the opposite. For example, The municipality of Hakney neighborhood is seeking to develop an AI-based model that can identify children who are most likely to get social services from the government and receive greater support, which improves their lives and contributes to saving money.
All these points are related to one basic idea: finding more creative ways to spend and rationalize the spending of money. There are plenty of tools currently available, such as social impact bonds , that make achieving results a spending priority. In Wales, Innovate to Save supports new ideas from government employees that have the potential to rationalize spending by reducing unnecessary interventions and helping governments act early.
There are many examples from around the world that demonstrate that the government sector has succeeded in making more profound changes, proving that the sector is capable of innovating if it wants to. The Aadhaar, a biometric card, has transformed access to financial services in poor communities but has also enabled the government to provide direct loans to individuals that they can repay through taxes. A similar order has been implemented for this project in Denmark, However, European countries in general have been somewhat behind in developing payment infrastructures, which are now available thanks to modern technologies.
All of these innovations share one denominator: the spirit of learning through application and testing and then developing ideas on a limited scale. To be sure, each of these ideas is challenging. But at least it is more forward-looking and innovative in responding to these difficult times we are experiencing.