Nearly half of European Union countries have higher quality
social services than the UK, delegates to the annual European
social services conference in Dublin were told last week.
Research by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living
and Working Conditions finds that 12 of the 25 EU countries
received a higher score than the UK for the quality of their social
UK citizens gave social services a score of 5.8 out of 10. This
compares with the top scorer Austria, whose residents gave its
social services 7.6 out of 10.
Most countries rated their health services higher than their social
services. But in the Irish Republic the reverse was true.
The study was carried out last summer and covered about 1,000
over-18s in each of the EU states and the 10 which acceded last
It also finds that unemployed people gave social services a lower
rating than those who were employed or still studying.
Unemployed people in the new member states gave social services
only 3.7 out of 10 compared with an average rating of 4.5 out of 10
from those in employment.
“Unemployed people in the new member states – who might be expected
to make substantial use of social services – appear relatively
poorly served,” the study says.
Other findings show that more than one-third of people on the
lowest incomes in the new member states have a long-standing
illness or disability compared with a quarter of those in other EU
For older people, the difference between the new and old member
states is even greater. Two-thirds of those aged 65 and over in the
new member states have a long-standing illness or disability
compared with just over one-third of those in the rest of the
“There is a great deal to be done to increase confidence of
citizens in the quality of their health and social services,” the
The European Quality of Life Survey from www.eurofound.eu.int/