Local governments should increase their investment in social protection and provide and prioritize the development of services that enabling living at home, the Ministry of Social Affairs has said.
The ministry has has submitted proposals to the Association of Estonian Cities and Rural Municipalities for budget negotiations.
"Social welfare has long been underfunded, but given the growth of the revenue base, it is appropriate to expect municipalities to invest more in social protection than the average growth of the revenue base in order to prioritize the development of different services that help people cope more independently and reduce the burden on loved ones," Rait Kuuse, deputy secretary general for social policy at the Ministry of Social Affairs, said.
"Our goal is to agree on activities that will help the state and local governments jointly reach a situation in which people can get help close to their homes and according to their actual needs. The role and responsibility of local governments in supporting people and shaping the living environment into one that promotes health and well-being is growing and we must all bear this in mind when choosing between investing in concrete or investing in people," Kuuse added.
The deputy secretary general said negotiations starting next year will be influenced by the Supreme Court's new ruling on the organization of social services in the border town of Narva.
"This ruling provides a fairly clear interpretation of the obligation to organize social assistance. The condition for receiving aid must not be the existence of a disability and the municipalities must not impose requirements restricting the Social Welfare Act. Now we have to discuss in cooperation between the state and local governments how the Supreme Court decision will affect everyday work," Kuuse added.
As is tradition, the Association of Estonian Cities and Rural Municipalities presented to the state 2021-2024 state budget strategy and 2021 state budget as well as sectoral work group proposals, which serve as the input for sectoral budget negotiations. For the first time, the Ministry of Social Affairs also submitted its own proposals to the local government association on which direction in which the state considers movement to be necessary to ensure the growth of people's welfare.
Editor: Helen Wright