Social Protection

The COVID-19 pandemic impact is widely seen as an opportunity to rebuild our economy in a new and more effective way.

However, an economy is not just setting up a few factories or companies, but a really deep, effective and equitable economy is usually one of the results of long term investment into society or Social Protection.

Social Protection is not just about helping the poor or needy but it is much wider and all encompassing as we all need social protection at some stage of our lives.

Everyone has been a child and most will have children, we or those we know may experience disability, anyone can lose their jobs, we all can get unexpected shocks and setbacks and we all age and are less able to work.

Countries that invest in social protection well find it a good way to reduce inequality and it is a good long term economic growth strategy due to investments in health, education and skilling which means a healthier more skilled labour force.

People with better income security also make greater investments in small businesses and spending money for social protection is a stimulus and gives a ready market.

Social protection is also an effective social contract between the people and government where the government makes use of resources to help in social protection and the people in return contribute to the government in a virtue cycle.

The most effective social protection schemes are one that covers an entire lifecycle from childhood to the working age to old age with cross cutting issues like disability covered in it. So this could mean something like a child benefit, unemployment and sickness benefit, maternity benefit, survivor benefit, disability benefit and old age pension.

An immediate excuse would be lack of resources but international examples show that you do not have to be a rich country but instead have a the political and societal will to invest a part of your GDP into the most important investment and protection for your people.

This will not only mean a stronger economy in the longer run but also a healthier society, a more humane society and importantly political and social stability in uncertain times.

This government has taken the first and exemplary important steps with a stronger focus on health and education but so much more can and needs to be done.

In terms of emerging economies, we absolutely believe that the prescription is social protection and a minimum wage on which people can live.
Sharan Burrow

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