For its next biennial Report in December 2017, the Combat Poverty Service is continuing the ‘Poverty and Citizenship’ dialogue of 2016. The dialogue addresses how people in poverty can fulfil their roles as citizens and looks at the conditions that would need to be satisfied. The issues of poverty and citizenship are examined from two perspectives: family and housing. Any observations, analyses and recommendations that emerge as a result of the dialogue will be included in the 2016-2017 Report.
In anticipation of the forthcoming elections (2018 and 2019) the Service will produce memoranda based on its activities in recent years. The memoranda will be sent to the internal affairs departments of political parties, as an aid in drafting of their election manifestos at the municipal, provincial, regional and federal levels.
For several years the Service has run an exchange programme with players who use the poverty impact assessment at a federal level, and in federated entities, and those who are thinking about developing a poverty impact assessment of their own. On the basis of these consultations the Service will, in the course of 2017, issue a memorandum of its findings and recommendations. It will then organise a Belgian peer review process to disseminate information from the memorandum and stimulate further exchange in relation to the material. With this information, and that gleaned from previous thematic activities, the Service will collaborate on specific poverty impact assessments, such as the Flemish assessments on child benefit and the digital energy meter.
The Service will continue to support the Agora group, which for several years has convened under the Directorate General for Special Youth Care in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation. In 2017 it will disseminate a brochure on transparency and the communication of documents and reports. At the end of the year a workshop will be held on this theme.
In recent years the Service has turned its attention to the non-take-up of rights, by organising events such as the colloquium on ‘Poverty and the Ineffectiveness of Rights. Non-access to and Non-take-up of Rights’ in December 2014. The Service will continue to use the products of these activities (such as the video); provide a summary of the various initiatives on non-take-up; and sit on the advisory committee of the TAKE research project.
The Service works with numerous partners to collect and publish court decisions which relate to poverty and social insecurity or, if not directly related, are of some value in achieving the Service’s objectives. The Service has three objectives in mind here: promoting the law as remedy against poverty and social insecurity for the people and organisations it affects, bringing relevant decisions to the attention of judicial actors in areas that largely affect people in poverty and assisting in an evaluation of the effectiveness of rights of people in poverty. In 2017 the project will continue, as will our collaboration with the Judicial Training Institute, with whom a second day of reflection will be organised.
The monitoring mechanisms associated with international instruments on human rights are essentially non-judicial. The Service provides an overview of non-judicial monitoring mechanisms. It will add to this general list as long as they contain a poverty dimension. The Service also monitors, from the perspective of poverty, reports produced in the context of Belgium’s international commitments to human rights, as well as the recommendations of the various authorities. It should also be said that the Service, either alone or in partnership with other organisations charged with human rights monitoring, issues reports parallel to those submitted to the monitoring authorities. In 2017 the Service will contribute to parallel reporting in relation to the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Social Charter (revised).
The Service actively encourages research on poverty and social exclusion. Our staff members sit on the advisory committees for the following projects:
CAUSINEQ (Causes of health and mortality inequalities in Belgium: multiple dimensions, multiple causes);
INCh (Integrated networks to combat child poverty: a mixed methods research on network governance and perspectives of policy makers, social workers and families in poverty);
IPSWICH (In-work Poverty and Shifts in Work, Income, and the Composition of Households);
MEHOBEL (The measurement of homelessness in Belgium);
SUSPENS (Reconciling environmental and social goals in the transition towards a low-carbon society);
TAKE (Reducing poverty through improving take up of social policies);
Poverty, Insecurity and Socioeconomic Exclusion in Wallonia: what possible futures?, a prospective study commissioned by the IWEPS [Walloon Institute for Statistics, Evaluation and Foresight]. The Service is a member of the follow-up core group.
The IGOA/GIREP research group is to be reinstated. The first meeting, involving the Service, takes place in January 2017.