human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

Too high to pass

A study on barriers to accessing public services

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Caritas Europa, together with Caritas Italy, Czech Republic, Latvia and Malta, presents a study on access to public services in the frame of the Caritas Poverty Observatories, a regional effort that collects data as a way to identify the structural causes of poverty and social exclusion. The Caritas Poverty Observatories make recommendations to authorities at all levels about the changes to the social and welfare systems needed to ensure no one is left behind.

Caritas organisations empower people to find solutions to the challenges related to the poverty and social exclusion they face. The first step to do to this is by listening to people and offering individual counselling, services, material or financial assistance. While doing that, Caritas compiles quantitative and qualitative data on the challenges faced by people who call on its services. The link becomes clear that many of the challenges people in need face are the result of gaps in the country’s social welfare or social protection system.

This process enables a connection with the signals reported by people in need and the underlying structural cause(s) of the problems they face. Such an analysis enables Caritas to look for solutions that address the root causes, and to advocate for structural change by recommending solutions to the competent authorities at a local, regional, national and/or European level.

This is ultimately the main purpose of the Caritas Poverty Observatories, to collect data in a structured way, analyse it and detect where structural change is necessary. Given the fact that the competence for social policy is situated at all governance levels, it is crucially important to continue increasing the national and European compatibility of CPO data collection.

This time, four Caritas organisations have collected data regarding the challenges related to accessing public services as experienced by people in need of Caritas support. The analysis of the data, both qualitative and quantitative, have brought about a clear link between the causes and consequences of poverty, and the challenges to access public services.