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EACEA National Policies Platform: Youthwiki
Poland

Poland

4. Social Inclusion

4.8 Current debates and reforms

As described in Section 4.4 (Inclusive Programmes for Young People), “The National Programme for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion 2020” (Krajowy Program Przeciwdziałania Ubóstwu i Wykluczeniu Społecznemu 2020) has been incorporated into the Long-Term National Development Strategy, but it is unclear what the status of this document is at the moment. As mentioned, according to the recent statement by the Minister of Family, Labour and Social Policy, the Programme formally exists, but its enactment is not the Government’s priority. In response to a parliamentary inquiry, it was indicated that the Programme “is mainly a document presenting actions aimed at combating social exclusion, which at the time of its preparation were being enacted or planned within extant strategies, initiatives, legal acts and projects which, by and large, function under different accountability procedures”.The governmental strategy currently in operation is the “Strategy for Responsible Development” (Strategia na rzecz Odpowiedzialnego Rozwoju) prepared by the Ministry of Regional Development, also referred to, in official presentations, as the “Plan for Responsible Development” (Plan na rzecz Odpowiedzialnego Rozwoju). The document does not refer directly to the young generation, but the summaries made available by the Ministry of Regional Development show that the key goal for the government is to increase the prosperity of Poles and reduce the number of people at risk of poverty and social exclusion by 2020. The Strategy is controversial, especially the viability of its assumptions regarding revenues and, consequently, the spending allocated for its implementation. The key outcome is intended to be an increase in the average income of households to reach 76-80% of the EU average by 2020, and nearly equating it with the EU average by 2030, while striving to reduce income disparities between regions and to reduce the proportion of people at risk of poverty and social exclusion to 20% in 2020 (17% in 2030).

Furthermore, Poland is witnessing two major discussions about the situation of the young generation. One concerns the implementation and effects of the “Family 500 +” scheme (Rodzina 500 +) (described in Section 4.6 Access to Quality Services). Its main positive effects include substantial and rapid reduction in poverty, especially among children and adolescents, resulting in very high social support for the scheme. The major controversies are, however, about the actual and long-term impact of the scheme on improvement of the demographic situation, the mechanisms affecting primarily single parents, the possibility of fraud, the financial security of the State in the face of such high social security expenditures. According to the authors of the “Family 500+ - evaluation and proposed changes” report, the programme failed to increase the birth rate, pushed about 100 000 women out of the job market (mainly low-income, low-education women from small towns), increased social transfers and forced the introduction of new tax burdens. It is the result of the programme’s core assumptions, offering benefits to all families, regardless. of their financial situation. The authors indicate that only “37% of the programme expenses goes to poor families, and just 12% of funds committed by the state to 500+ would be enough to eliminate extreme poverty among children.”

An important voice in this discussion belongs to the view of social researchers that claim that the family-centric approach (central to the 500+ programme) can, within a few years, change into a relatively unimportant part of a family budget. From this point of view, it would be more beneficial to enact children-centric policies, such as developing the network of public services that children use (mainly investing into education, free time, personal development). Such approach provides better opportunities for permanently freeing from poverty the children that grow up in the conditions of social exclusion.

Within actions taking to counteract the COVID-19 pandemic, further actions meant to increase access to housing for the young are being considered - it would be a tax deduction for the purchase or construction of a family home.