Nederlands | English

Finally a scientifically substantiated budget norm for Flanders!

How much money does a household minimally require in order to be able to participate in Flemish society in a manner that is compatible with human dignity? That is the central question addressed in this paper.

Many organisations, particularly public centres for social welfare (OCMWs), have pointed out the need for an objective standard in decision-making on financial assistance. Labour courts, too, have called for general guidelines that would allow them to rule more objectively on contested decisions by OCMWs in the light of the criterion of human dignity.

At present, such scientifically substantiated norms are lacking. Income standards can, moreover, be useful in so-called collective debt settlement, providing a guarantee that the human dignity of the debtor and his or her family is adequately protected. Other institutions, too, would welcome an objective guideline for assessing whether or not certain situations are contrary to human dignity.

Examples that come to mind include the social services of health funds, social housing companies and the budget assistance services of CAWs (centres for general social work) and OCMWs. Besides its social relevance, the project also serves a scientific purpose. Determining the financial resources that someone requires in order to be able to participate minimally in society may be regarded as a concrete operationalisation of the poverty notion. Poverty is, after all, a situation where individuals lack the economic resources to satisfy a number of basic needs. Moreover, the minimum budgets obtained for the various household types could be compared with that for a single person, so that insight is acquired into the additional cost per household member and an equivalence scale can be drawn up.

For those that prefer reading printed copy, you can dowload the English version of the extensive summary of the book "Storms & Van den Bosch, 2009, Wat heeft een gezin minimaal nodig? Een budgetstandaard voor Vlaanderen, Leuven: Acco" here (.pdf).


K.H.Kempen Vlaamse overheid CSB ULG