Update from the UK’s National Stakeholder Committee

The Euroship project launched in February 2020 seeking to examine social protection systems, close gaps in social citizenship, and provide new tools to foster social resilience. The project’s ideals are built upon foundations of collaboration and user engagement. With this in mind the University of Sussex Digit centre research team, hosted their first national stakeholder committee meeting in July. In the midst of the pandemic this virtual meeting provided an opportunity for the committee to provide input to the first Euroship project milestone, the national country reports. The intention of this overview report is to provide a comparative view of what provision is out there, to understand the trends over time, and the key challenges and difficulties faced by the three vulnerable groups that Euroship is concerned with.

Committee members represent the following organisations: Youth Employment UK, Working Families, Citizens Advice service and North London Citizens. Their respective experience and knowledge provided valuable input which helped shape the UK report.

Covid has magnified the risks of unemployment for all. For young people the volume and quality of schemes available prompted discussion of the need to encourage employers to support youth initiatives. Attendees described the variability in past policy offerings as responsibility is often devolved and priorities vary. The importance of early intervention, employability support and career development for young people needs to be prioritised, despite the current restrictions.

The impact of caring requirements, while always an issue, is now no longer invisible. The disconnect between economic policy and the needs of families needs to be recognised.

The intersecting challenges of bridging the opportunity to embed flexibility with for instance, the needs of young workers, who need the training and employability skills that home-based work lacks, must also be addressed.

For all attendees an overriding concern was how the pandemic is amplifying challenges that were already apparent. For instance, the lack of access to affordable secure housing is creating negative and often insurmountable consequences for all groups.

The meeting offered a useful and insightful window to some of the important work that partners are engaged in.[1] Future engagement and co-collaboration sessions will be planned for 2021 to build on and develop links between organisations.

[1] https://workingfamilies.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Weathering-the-Storm-the-COVID-19-pandemic-working-parents.pdf