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National Program for Social Economy Developement
Summer 2014 was an important period of time for Polish social entrepreneurship. Almost everybody associated with this sector in Poland realized that what they were waiting for a long time finally happened. The National Programme of Social Economy Development was accepted by the Polish Council of Ministers – Izabela Przybysz, Ekonomiaspolecza.pl.
Short history of Social Economy Program
Creating a draft of the National Programme was a long process. Everything began in 2008 when the Council on Systemic Solutions in the Social Economy was appointed by the Prime Minister, Donald Tusk. The Council consisted of representatives of social economy sector, trade unions, academia, and employers' organizations, local and central government. Within the Council four subgroups were set up to develop a system for supporting social economy in four aspects: finance, law, education and strategy.
The subgroup was working until 2013 when the draft of the National Programme of Social Economy Development (Krajowy Program Rozwoju Ekonomii Społecznej - KPRES) was finished. Then Ministry organized consultations of KPRES among stakeholders. All comments submitted during the consultations were analyzed and considered by decision makers in the final version. Ultimately, the Programme was adopted by the Polish Government on the 12th of August 2014.
What is KPRES and what does it change in Polish social enterprises sector?
The National Programme for the Development of Social Economy is a government document that shows the key directions of public engagement for the creation of the best possible conditions for the development of social economy and social enterprises. It is addressed primarily to the public institutions responsible for creating and implementing policies but also to the people involved in the social economy sector. Their activities will be supported from the EU funds and the national budget.
There are several problems which you will have to face while reading the document. KPRES is not easy to read. It consists of about 100 pages and six chapters. It delivers a few kinds of information:
· statistics about the social economy sector and the scale and reach of the current social economy support system,
· the main objective and specific objectives of the Programme, and success indicators
· description of particular directions of public engagement and the basic premises of the implementation system and the required finance scheme suitable for the development of the Programme
Moreover, the language of the Programme is very formal and full of abbreviations and references to specific Polish and EU regulations. It is simply a an official document, certainly not a user-friendly information paper, that would help you find out useful information about Polish social enterprises. .
Nevertheless, the document presents social entrepreneurship to public officials in a positive way, lining out their good impact on social life, such as facilitating social integration, improvement of quality of public services contracted out to social entrepreneurs, and development of local communities. Pursuant to the provisions KPRES, “social economy in 2020 will be an important element of public policy, contributing to increased employment, community cohesion and social capital development”.
This means that the development of social economy is closely aligned with the key objectives of Polish national development (formulated in other strategic documents). According to the authors of the document, to achieve the aims of national development,, it is necessary to boost the development of social economy in Poland. This should not only be understood also in quantitative, but also in qualitative terms, which would mean for social enterprises to achieve a stable position on the market as a place which creates jobs for people in danger of social exclusion. Therefore the main objective of the document is:
By 2020, social economy entities will become an important element of activation of vulnerable people on the labour market. They will also become a provider of social services commissioned by local government.
This objective contains operational aims. The way of achieving these aims are described by specific priorities that show particular directions of interventions, description of activities and the evaluation method. The following diagram shows the influence of the priorities for their intended purpose.
However, beyond the appropriate aims and priorities the most crucial are the activities which will be held. It is sure that they will directly effect on improvement of the condition of social economy in Poland. But probably it is almost impossible to write every task that would be undertaken so the main ones will be presented in every Priorities.
First of all it will be developed and implemented the legal changes aimed at ordering the strategic planning of local government in the field of social policy. Moreover to increase effectiveness of social service development the manner of conducting public consultations, social, civil dialogue will be improved. Within this general assumption certain procedures will be developed such as procedures for local initiative implementation in 80% of local government units, procedures for electronic tools which deliver comparative data allowing to create social policy programmes on the local level, in order to increase employment in social economy entities which are not enterprises by 40,000 jobs in relations to 2010. Additionally, there will be created new employment possibilities in social economy entities inter alia 10 thousand jobs for young people, 10 thousand jobs for people aged 50+, 20 thousand jobs in social enterprises social service of general interest, especially services related to care and family policy.
The main aim of this Priority II is organising legal regulations on the functioning of social enterprises and their environment to allow the creation of new social enterprise and let blossom the existing ones.
Apart from the adoption of more efficient regulations in the field of social economy - such as amendments to the laws on social cooperatives, employment of disabled people, as well as reforms of public procurement in relation to the new EU directives – Poland plans to improve the supervision of how these regulations function in practice.
It was noticed during the previous UE fund activities related to social enterprises that it was relatively easy to establish new social entities but financial infrastructure and support for existing ones is still far from sufficient. So it was certain that developing access to loans should be crucial. It is intended to aim these assumption by activation of financial intermediaries for loan and guarantee fund in event of voivodships. The financial support systems will be designed for specific of social enterprises.
Priority VI as a main effect assumes establishing a system of coordination of public policy in relation to the social economy at the central, regional and local level. Within this Priority it is planned especifically: implementing regional programmes for social economy in every voivodship, establishing a uniform social economy research system in consideration of the assumptions of Strategy of public statistics research development in the field of the third sector and social capital and establishing the Chamber of Social Enterprises that will collect representatives of social enterprises.
Regarding to the last Priority, it is related to education and its main aim is increasing the level of awareness of social economy in society. The actions that will be held are inter alia: offering post-graduate studies in the social economy in at least 16 higher education institutions, implementing at least 3 projects a year to develop and popularise the thought of Polish social economy, establishing at least 12 Regional Youth’s Funds which will provide support to groups of young people in the field of social enterprises. As it was mentioned it is almost impossible to circumscribe every planned actions but above description probably show how challenging aims Poland wants to realise.
What results can we expect in real life
KREPS may prove to be helpful in shifting the attitude of Polish government to social economy. However judging from the previous official actions I am not sure. Critics conclude that the document’s very detailed indicators makes it impossible to meet its foreseen aims, especially when it comes to activities financed from national funds, and not from European Unions’. Additionally as we now cannot predict the forthcoming actions, it is impossible to know now if KPRES is relevant in three years.
Nevertheless, undoubtedly the acceptance of this document is a huge success of Polish social economy sector. Moreover, probably it is the first comprehensive government document about social economy in Europe. Even for this sole reason it is worth paying attention to. Yet only the future will show how social entrepreneurship is developing.
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