On the 7th of September, the European Commission presented its Care strategy to ensure quality, affordable and accessible care services across the European Union and improve the situation for both care receivers and the people caring for them, professionally or informally.
Housing Europe welcomes the recognition of the work of service providers as a service of general economic interest (SGEI) and would like to bring attention to its members, located in 25 countries and managing around 25 million homes in Europe, who are indeed affordable service providers. They do not just provide affordable homes but a number of other services such as domiciliary care and support services for residents with specific needs or additional services for tenants (kindergardens, community centres, financial advice, etc.):
‘Care providers need stable and sustainable financing mechanisms and they need clear and enabling regulatory environments. Given their clear social function, long-term care services are a public good. When provided by public authorities and associations, long-term care services are primarily considered social services of general interest.’ - Page 18, EU Care Strategy
Furthermore, Housing Europe welcomes that the Strategy highlights the need to improve the affordability of care services and a need to further develop supported housing to ensure long-term social cohesion.
‘Innovative care settings, such as shared housing where people with long-term care needs share domestic support and care services, as well as adapted housing or multigenerational housing facilities can foster intergenerational contacts and solidarity while supporting independent living and social interactions, with a positive impact on the wellbeing of those in need of care and social cohesion. Care settings adapted to climate change can also protect vulnerable people, like older people, from meteorologically difficult conditions like heat waves’- Page 4, EU Care Strategy
However, we would like to raise attention that the Strategy overlooks the current lack of affordable housing.
Evidence shows that house prices have been growing steadily across the euro area for nearly a decade. There are different factors at play behind this phenomenon, including a lack of coherent national policies, supply shortages, and the increasing financialisation of housing. However, the pace of price increases has accelerated in many member states recently: throughout the pandemic, house price growth has further accelerated and current prices are higher than at the outbreak of the global financial crisis in 2008.
In 2021, fourteen countries have seen increases in the house price index that go beyond the 6% 'alert' threshold used in the Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure (MIP) last year and today “House prices are growing at their fastest pace in over a decade”. Recent data released from Eurostat point at fast price increases by 9.4 % in the euro area and by 10.0 % in the European Union in the fourth quarter of 2021, compared with the same quarter of 2020. This trend has clear implications for housing affordability and potential additional spillovers.
Therefore, the lack of affordable housing should be addressed across Europe by providing more supply in markets where such housing is not available in a sufficient quantity or way. This should be the object of country-specific recommendations within the European Semester.
Finally, Housing Europe also would like to raise the attention of the European Commission to the fact that the Strategy does not give recommendations to the Member States on how to develop further community-based care.
Evidence shows that successful community-based care should be based on high-quality, continued social services. Housing and support providers need to think holistically, and flexibly and work effectively together. Housing Europe, representing the affordable housing providers’ sector across 25 countries disposes the knowledge to assist you in developing such guidance for Member States.
We recognise the efforts of the European Commission to coordinate the collection of data and evidence sharing and we are committed to a reinforced dialogue with the European Commission so as to highlight the fundamental aspects missing in the present Strategy.