N. van Gestel and J.-M. Herbillon
International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 27, 2007, p. 324-333
During the last decade France and the Netherlands have experienced major changes in their activation services for the unemployed. Moving away from a traditionally hierarchical structure, France is gradually developing a network model with more emphasis on decentralisation. On the other hand, the Netherlands privatised its public employment services and explored principal-agent relations in activation. The institutional context of both nations, in particular the concept of path dependency, seems crucial in the explanation of these differences. On the other hand, there is a clear overall common trend towards mobilisation of the unemployed, decentralisation of services to local and regional authorities, and the involvement of various non-state actors in policymaking.
T. Sirovátka, P. Horák and M. Horáková
International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol.27, 2007, p. 311-323
This article explores the implementation at local level of individual action plans (IAPs) for the unemployed in the Czech Republic. Implementation was hampered by poor staffing of local employment offices and lack of activation programmes for the unemployed. Due to these adverse conditions, IAPs have been gradually dying out. However implementation of IAPs triggered a process of institutional learning at the local level, and when EU funding became available through the European Social Funds, employment offices were able to use it to develop individually tailored intensive support programmes for those with multiple barriers to labour market entry.
T. Bredgaard and F. Larsen
International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol.27, 2007, p.287-300
This article presents case studies of the contracting out of public employment services in Australia, the Netherlands and Denmark. It explores what happens to employment policies when the services are contracted out to various for-profit and not-for-profit agencies. The analysis shows that the model is better suited than public agency delivery of employment services to promoting a 'work first' approach to the unemployed. Secondly, it allows the unemployed to be prioritised, so that resources are not wasted on hopeless cases or on people capable of finding a job on their own. Thirdly, contracting out also enables politicians to control the costs of employment services, by buying in more or less of them.
E. Sol and M. Westerveld
International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol.27, 2007, p. 301-310
Governments of Western countries are increasingly contracting out the provision of work reintegration services (vocational training, etc), benefits administration, and job brokerage. This article attempts to shed light on what these changes mean for the individual job seeker. The new model emphasizes the contract between the employment service and the individual, by which the job seeker receives benefits in return for signing up to an 'action plan' to hasten his/her reintegration into the labour market. Research has demonstrated that this approach increases the level of involvement of the individual job seeker and thereby increases the number of job placements.
R. Maier, W. de Graaf and P. Frericks
European Societies, vol. 9, 2007, p. 339-358
The Life Course Saving Scheme introduced in the Netherlands in 2006 offers employees the opportunity to save up to 12% of their gross salary for a period of leave without exit from employment. The leave can be taken to fulfil caring responsibilities, to undertake training, or for early retirement. The amount saved can reach a maximum of 210% of gross annual salary. After using all or some of the money saved for a period of leave, the employee can start saving again. Money paid into the LCSS from gross salary is not taxed. Instead income tax is levied when funds are used as salary replacement during a period of leave. This article critically evaluates the new scheme.
H. Johansson and B. Hvinden
International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol.27, 2007, p. 334-346
This paper analyses activation governance in the light of the basic values behind the formation of Nordic social protection systems in the mid-20th century. The Nordic countries based relatively generous income security systems on a strong work ethic and ambitions to maximise labour market participation of the working age population. Citizens' rights to income security were generally linked to the fulfilment of work requirements. Although this active governance of unemployed citizens eroded in the 1970s and 1980s all the Nordic countries revived it after 1990. However, Nordic approaches to activation are not egalitarian. There are two types of income security provision: means-tested social assistance financed out of general taxation and social insurance financed by contributions of scheme members and their employers. Reflecting this duality, there are two parallel employment services: those run by the state and focused on people receiving unemployment or disability insurance and those run by the municipalities for social assistance recipients. There is evidence that social assistance recipients participating in municipal activation measures are more exposed to paternalistic control and punitive treatment.
H. Levy, C. Lietz and H. Sutherland
Journal of Social Policy, vol. 36, 2007, p. 625-647
Three European countries with very different tax-benefit systems have recently substantially increased the level of support for children: Austria, Spain and the UK. Austria mainly makes use of universal benefits; Spain offers tax concessions; and the UK relies on means-tested benefits and tax credits. This article addresses the question of whether the chosen strategies are in fact the most effective for each country. Results show that the UK's means-testing approach would be the most successful in reducing child poverty if implemented in any of the three countries.