Four new Flash Reports prepared by the European Social Policy Network (ESPN) are now available and provide information on recent social policy developments in Estonia, Greece, Slovakia and Slovenia.
Estonia improves access to dental care
Since 1 January 2022, the group of people eligible for the highest dental care benefits (capped at €85 per year) has been extended to the unemployed and recipients of subsistence benefits in Estonia. However, a report from the National Audit Office published in 2021 finds that the conditions applicable to dental care benefits need more fundamental changes to ensure effective access to dental services for people on a low income.
New initiatives to reduce the burden of housing costs in Greece
New initiatives have recently been taken in Greece to alleviate the cost of housing, including an energy telephone helpline for vulnerable households, a new means-tested heating subsidy as well as discounts on electricity bills for primary residences. Even though these measures are welcome, a more comprehensive approach is needed to effectively tackle housing exclusion. For example, the persistent lack of social housing schemes makes current policy responses rather inadequate.
Slovakia is building a network of debt advisory services
Slovakia has had underdeveloped debt advisory services for a long time despite having one of the highest household debt growth rates in the EU. To provide economic, legal and psychological assistance to people with debts, the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family launched a pilot project in Bratislava (2020) and Prešov (2021) for registered jobseekers and other target groups. In January 2022 six new regional offices opened. These eight offices are accessible to all people. The plan is to build a network of 46 offices by the end of this year.
Slovenia adopts Long-Term Care Act
After two decades of discussions and numerous drafts, Slovenia adopted the Long-Term Care Act in December 2021. The Act defines the rights and assessment mechanism for categories of care. It emphasises community care, introducing e-care and some other services. And, importantly, it introduces compulsory long-term care insurance.