Even at times of economic boom, the level of poverty and dire poverty in particular remains high: the share of poor people exceeds 20% and IME’s analyses show that the share of people in dire poverty remains a stable 10%. The main yardstick for the success of the social policy is the extent to which the policy reduces dire poverty and inequalities especially of opportunities. Social transfers in Bulgaria result in minimum reduction of inequalities. Even though a reform of the policies on people with disabilities and personal assistance has been launched recently, there are no outlooks at present for a fundamental change in the social field and durable results. The project entails analytical skills that will facilitate advocacy activities to change the social policy and will achieve a specific goal, namely carry out research to facilitate decision-making, formulation of public policies and a debate. The project envisages contributing through specific proposals to the planned development of a map of the needs of social services. The analytical activities include 7 in-depth analyses with recommendations and efficiency and impact evaluation and the advocacy activities include participation in the working groups and parliamentary committees in the National Assembly, active work with the media, preparation of articles and opinions, involvement of civil society organizations and the government in discussions and round tables, polls and visits to municipalities and youth involvement. Some of the project efforts will aim at analyzing and formulating recommendations. The other more important part of the efforts will be targeted at advocacy, partnerships and pressure for reforms. The expected results are (1) raised awareness of inequality of opportunities, efficiency of the social policy and the needs of municipalities of social services; (2) supported stakeholders; (3) better social policy; (4) activated and informed debate and consulted local authorities.
Summary of project results
The project ended successfully, with impressive quantitative indicators: 10 analytical reports, 12 official statements and positions, more than 140 articles in IME weekly newsletter, 10 infographics, 4 round tables, 2 press conferences and nearly 200 media appearances. IME efforts contributed to a better understanding of the challenges facing the social protection system in Bulgaria, provoking a broad discussion for reforms both in terms of the focus and scope of social transfers, and in relation to the planning and financing of social services at the local level. The work of IME has contributed to the expansion of the scope of monthly social benefits and heating benefits, which are among the most effective social programs in the country and are directly related to various poverty and inequality indicators. The expertise gained by the IME team, the developed partnerships and relationships with various stakeholders, including public institutions, civil organizations and NGOs, as well as the good relations with the media contribute to the sustainability of project results. The IME team continues to develop its analytical work on poverty and social policy and to propose reforms, including to uphold the policy proposals made within the project. IME continues to closely monitor the development of the framework of social assistance, as well as the shaping of the new model of social services. These are the two big policies that are key to the results of the project. All project materials are available on the website: www.socialchangebg.info. Official page of IME: www.ime.bg