As a result of the sixth Belgian governmental reform, the competence of child benefits was transferred from the federal level to the Communities and Regions (Flanders, Wallonia, Brussels and the German speaking Community) on January the 1st 2019. Flanders chose to integrate the family allowances in a larger family policy.
This was an opportunity to enlarge the support of families and children and to make the system more efficient and convenient. Family allowances are now a pillar of an integrated family policy, to create opportunities and support active participation to the society and thus also to support a combination of employment and raising a family. We named it Groeipakket (this roughly translates as Growth Package).
We applied several basic principles to the new legislation:
• Disconnect the socio-professional statute of the family allowances and depart from the right of the child, to ensure that working poor have the same rights as non-working poor.
• Ensure that no child is left out.
• Add new allowances to support participation.
• Adjust to the new social reality.
• Every child is equal.
• Automatically granting as far-reaching as possible to ensure that the administrative burden for the families is reduced to a minimum.
• Lower the risk of child poverty by selective support of low income families.
(Link to the brochure (in Dutch).)
The reform had to be budget neutral, which means that no extra resources would be allocated. This called for new balances in horizontal (cost compensating) and vertical (in function of abilities) solidarity between families and children.
On an organisational level, things had to change as well. Before the reform, there was a federal agency called FAMIFED and eleven child benefit funds. FAMIFED had a double role, it supervised and also was a public child benefit fund. Neither FAMIFED, nor the eleven child benefit funds are competent for supervision or payment of the child benefits from January 2019. A new Flemish agency (VUTG) that holds a public payment fund was founded and is operating from January 2019. Only four private payment funds could be licensed, so the eleven ones negotiated and merged until they were four.
From January 2019 onwards Kind & Gezin maintains the role of director of the Groeipakket. Kind & Gezin (Child and Family) is an agency that works actively in the Public Health, Welfare and Family policy area in Flanders. During the years prior to this great reform the transition in Flanders was managed by this agency. Not only did the entirely new legislation have to be implemented, but the public also had to be informed and reassured, the structured digital flows had to be created, a new customized and centralised computer system was built to be used by all five payment funds, the new agency (VUTG) had to be founded and the human capital had to be transferred from the federal level to the Flemish level.
This might have been the biggest reform of social security in Belgian history. In our EPSA application we will explicate how all this came into being.
|Award category:||new solutions to complex challenges - a public sector citizen-centric, sustainable and fit for the future - regional level|
|Type of activity:|
|Keywords:||child benefits, family benefits, Groeipakket, family policy|
|Short English description:|| As a result of the sixth Belgian governmental reform, the competence of child benefits was transferred from the federal level to the Communities and Regions (Flanders, Wallonia, Brussels and the German speaking Community) on January the 1st 2019. Flanders chose to integrate the family allowances in a larger family policy.
This was an opportunity to enlarge the support of families and children and to make the system more efficient and convenient.
|Organisation:||Kind en Gezin|
|Level of government:||regional level|
|Size of organisation:||>100|
|Number of people involved:||>15|
|EU membership:||EU member|