Ecorys research on e-vouchers contributing to EU COVID-19 social policy response

| Social Policy

Ecorys's ongoing research on the use of electronic vouchers in supporting Europe’s most vulnerable is contributing to EU social policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The research study, commissioned by DG EMPL, is a response to the future European Social Fund Plus programme (ESF+), which will allow Member States - for the first time - to use e-vouchers to give people in poverty access to food and basic material goods. The study – which aims to understand how e-vouchers can be implemented in a way that is effective in delivering support to the most deprived, within the ESF+ regulatory framework – has become particularly relevant in the context of the COVID-19 crisis. The crisis is increasing the number of vulnerable individuals across the EU. At the same time, much needed food aid is significantly less available due to lock-down measures that are prohibiting NGOs and other social organisations from distributing food packages to the most vulnerable at food banks. In response, the EU has amended legislation to allow current EU funding (the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived) to finance voucher schemes - sparking a need for information on how these schemes work in different contexts.

Ecorys' study on e-voucher schemes explores six vouchers schemes that are already being implemented in five European countries to support poverty alleviation, led by a diverse range of actors - from NGOs and public authorities, to voucher and retail companies. The study is thus providing essential evidence on how voucher schemes are being used and their benefits and challenges in aiding vulnerable groups. This information is being used in real-time by policymakers to ensure that support can reach those most in need in these challenging times and in the future.