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Lechner, Reiter & Riesenfelder
Sozialforschung OG, Wien

Effects of the introduction of needs-oriented basic subsidies on the reintegration of benefit recipients into working life (Research, 2012)

The question whether the introduction of needs-oriented basic subsidies has led to an improvement in labour market integration of the recipients of these subsidies and/or whether it has led to any changes in labour market policy cannot yet be fully answered at the time of the evaluation at hand, since the follow-up observation period has still been relatively short.

However, the data analysis to date does reveal an increase in the extent of labour market integration of recipients of needs-oriented basic subsidies as well as a trend towards a decreasing dependence on benefits within the framework of needs-oriented basic subsidies as a consequence of increased employment intensity. Moreover, as a result of the replacement of the extramural social assistance system with the system of needs-oriented basic subsidies, it has been possible to see impulses in terms of activation of the target group, that is, an increased integration in labour market policy measures.

The group of recipients of needs-oriented basic subsidies is strongly characterised by multiple problematic situations which impede placement and thus considerably complicate rapid (re-)integration in the labour market. One of these characteristic problems is a large distance to education and training; consequently the perspectives of this target group concerning their (re-)integration in working life is expected to be mid-term to long-term. In many cases, successful assistance for integration in the labour market cannot take place until a number of further stabilising measures have been taken. Elderly recipients of needs-oriented basic subsidies and those with health-related impairments are specially affected by distance to the labour market.

Due to the fact that at the time of the survey the assistance offer had not yet been implemented in all places and in some cases it was in its pilot phase, at present no final results can be presented concerning the quality and the extent of the assistance offered. However, it can be stated that there are new impulses in the field of labour market policy and that, nevertheless (if the aim of labour market integration is to be reached in the long run and if it is to be sustainable), the multi-faceted nature of problem situations requires further adaptations of social and labour market policies.

Consequently, assistance offers that allow the target group to integrate themselves in the labour market cannot be exclusively the responsibility of labour market policy and must much rather follow a broad-based approach, involving above all a comprehensive assistance offer in the field of social work and a coordinated offer of rehabilitation measures for providing assistance to the target group to be able to reach or recover the capacity to take up employment. Another central measure is adaptation in the field of labour market policy in order to be able to address the needs of the target group. First steps have already been taken in this respect. Nevertheless, as shown in the evaluation at hand, a need for further optimisation persists.

Among the positive developments since the implementation of needs-oriented basic subsidies is the fact that recipients of these subsidies are now viewed as a target group of active labour market policy more than during the period of extramural social assistance. A variety of approaches exists which are designed for specific problem areas suffered by the target group, included amongst which are in particular the so-called assistance and counselling projects which work with case management approaches and which are tested and implemented in the federal states. The existence of positive developments, even though not sufficiently implemented in terms of quantity, can be confirmed at least in terms of quality. An analysis of funding data shows that those recipients of needs-oriented basic subsidies who are reached by offers of labour market policies continuously increased after the introduction of needs-oriented basic subsidies.

In addition, the specific problem situations of the recipients of needs-oriented basic subsidies also give rise to the need for a new focus concerning any possible effects. In this respect, it must be asked what short/mid/long-term success of labour market policy is to be viewed as realistic. An immediate integration into the primary, but also into the secondary labour market is not possible yet for many people. Even marginal employment or irregular participation on the labour market can be valued as a first step in the right direction and is as such to be seen as a first partial success which can be continued with further steps on a short or mid-term basis.
Viewed against the background of the argument above, the analyses of the longitudinal data suggest that the approaches made to date have been successful: in approximately 20% of the recipients of needs-oriented basic subsidies, an increase in employment periods can be observed within the relatively short follow-up observation period of nine months which has been possible in the framework of this evaluation since needs-oriented basic subsidies were introduced.

In connection with the conception and implementation of needs-oriented basic subsidies, the aim has also been to facilitate access to benefits for (potential) recipients and thus to decrease the non-take-up rate in the context of extramural social assistance of previous years; this rate had been set very high. It has been possible to improve accessibility to benefits in the framework of needs-oriented basic subsidies by facilitating application also in the centres of the Public Employment Service among others. Even though this measure has not been implemented in all the regions to date, it can be observed that at least the services providing information on needs-oriented basic subsidies have been expanded in the regional centres of the Public Employment Service, where in practically all places (potential) recipients of needs-oriented basic subsidies receive information concerning these subsidies and information leaflets are available. Moreover, in most federal states cooperation between social service offices and the Public Employment Service, and in some cases even collaboration with organisations collaborating in labour market policy projects for recipients of needs-oriented basic subsidies, has improved. This improved coordination should go hand in hand with improved assistance for the recipients of needs-oriented basic subsidies, and better adaptation of the offers for this target group should be undertaken.

Team: Andreas Riesenfelder, Nadja Bergmann, Claudia Sorger

Client: Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection

Status: finished



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