Every year, the Annual Convention for Inclusive Growth brings together civil society organisations and policymakers to discuss how to achieve inclusive growth in Europe. The event offers the opportunity to reflect on the social dimension of the European Union and examine how to adapt the existing social model to EU’s current and future challenges so as to develop long-term solutions to fight poverty, increase employment and strengthen social cohesion and inclusion for all.
The fourth edition of the Annual Convention took place in Brussels on 20 May 2019. It focused on the future of Social Europe, namely on the European Pillar of Social Rights, the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the new EU multiannual financial framework, which set the frame for the work of the European Union on social and economic inclusion, as the Europe 2020 Strategy is coming to an end.
The different policy areas that are relevant to achieve the inclusive growth objectives were explored through a number of workshops in the morning session, while, in the afternoon, side events gave participants the chance to share their experiences and ideas.
AGE Platform Europe was invited to speak at two side events: one on investing in the social service workforce and a second one on accessing financial services.
Ageism in the care sector: need for adequate investment & training
In the panel of the workshop on “How can investment in the social services workforce deliver inclusive growth? Innovative approaches in recruitment, retention and training”, organised jointly by the European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD), the Federation of European Social Employers and the European Public Service Union (EPSU), Borja Arrue, AGE Policy Officer, highlighted the need for services to go beyond ensuring good working conditions, and ensure they address ageist attitudes in care and support. For a long time, care for older people has been delivered in paternalistic and infantilising ways, with a narrow focus on medical aspects. AGE insisted on the need for a new approach that ensures equality, dignity, inclusion and participation, and the skills to make this a reality – including communication, culture and gender-sensitive care, human rights awareness and skills to prevent and address abuse and maltreatment.
Digitalization & financial inclusion: a challenging match
At the workshop on access to financial services for all, which we organized together with COFACE-Families Europe and Finance Watch, Anne-Sophie Parent, AGE Secretary-General, looked at the risks and challenges of digitalization for financial inclusion. In her presentation, she stressed the lack of accessibility of most digital financial services and digital profiling, which leave many behind. Here again, Mrs Parent pointed out ageism as an important barrier that hinders the access to financial products in older age: many older people are refused car insurance, credit card or travel insurance merely on the basis of their age.
The rapid digitization makes the issue even more critical, leading to a growing number of consumers being faced with difficutlies in accessing payment, mainly for accessibility, affordability and safety reasons. More and more older persons are the victims of fraud in non-cash payment and scams.
AGE Secretary-General also presented the work done by AGE to put the issue of accessibility on the 2020 work programme of the European Retail Payment Board.
To follow the discussions on Twitter: #ACIG2019