Minister Shalapatova: Social policy should be linked to investments, not aid




"Social policy should be perceived as an investment in the future of people and society, not as spending on social assistance," noted Minister of Labor and Social Policy Ivanka Shalapatova during the opening of the 6th National Meeting of experts on social activities and health care by the municipalities, organized by the National Association of Municipalities in the Republic of Bulgaria. For this purpose, one of the priorities of the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy (MLSP) is the preparation of an analysis of social assistance with a focus on its impact on the lives of those assisted, on the basis of which legislative changes guaranteeing a more effective social policy can be prepared.

"Our goal is to analyze whether each activity achieves the best for children, youth, the elderly, the labor market, and to take measures to optimize investments in social support at the highest level," specified Ivanka Shalapatova.

The Minister of Labor drew attention to the fact that the effectiveness of the social system depends on the extent to which it is integrated with other systems, including health, education, and regional systems. "With the reform in the field of social services, in the implementation of which the municipalities have a key role, we aim to achieve precisely that intersectoral interaction that will provide comprehensive support for people, families, children, so that they can permanently cope with the difficult situation" , Minister Shalapatova said. She added that in order to ensure the integration of policies committed to people's well-being, on her initiative, talks are being held with individual ministries at the ministerial level to discuss and take common actions.

"Social services in Bulgaria have an important role in preventing and overcoming the social exclusion of vulnerable groups in society. But they are only a part of the general support that people need to permanently deal with their difficulties and improve their quality of life," said Minister Shalapatova. She added that this is precisely why another priority of the MLSP is to ensure interaction between social assistance and social work. "Cash assistance should be tied to work that motivates those assisted to make lasting changes in their lives and move forward themselves," she explained.

Minister Shalapatova expressed her recognition to the municipalities for the efforts and energy put into the process of developing the legislative changes in the field of social services. "We share with you the common vision that social services in Bulgaria have important role in preventing and overcoming the social exclusion of vulnerable groups in society," noted the minister.

Ivanka Shalapatova announced that the MLSP has launched the preparation of a comprehensive strategy for human resources in the social sphere. "There cannot be quality social services without a quality team. We will work to ensure that people in the system have good working conditions, a friendly working environment, and are motivated both in terms of remuneration and in terms of opportunities for qualification, retraining, and career development," she added.

Minister Shalapatova called on the municipalities to continue supporting the Ministry's team in its efforts to activate inactive persons. Most of them are young people who neither study nor work. "According to NSI data, 142,300 are inactive people aged 15-64 who wish to work and this is an invaluable resource on the labor market. About BGN 1 billion from various sources are earmarked specifically for improving the quality of the workforce. "Municipalities are eligible candidates under measures and programs for subsidized employment, which at first glance appears to be temporary, but which creates work habits and increases the possibilities of the persons involved to find a permanent job afterwards," she stated.

The Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Policy Maya Vasileva also took part in the forum, which was attended by the executive director of National Association of Municipalities in the Republic of Bulgaria Silvia Georgieva, representatives of municipal administrations, experts on social activities and health care for the municipalities. "Municipalities have proven to be key partner of the state not only in the formation of policies, but also in the planning, development and provision of quality and efficient services aimed at providing care and support for people in a vulnerable situation," noted Vasileva. She reminded that the process of planning social services in the municipalities is expected to be completed by the end of the year with the adoption of the National Map of Social Services. "A key priority is the development of the new standards for their financing, in which the Social Assistance Agency has leading role, but the municipalities have significant contribution as providers of social services," explained Deputy Minister Maya Vasileva.