The new Social and Economic Benefit Office is a municipal service which centralises the management of municipal subsidies. It means those who are most vulnerable will find it simpler to apply for benefit and staff will be able focus on directly helping people, with less red tape.
The office, at C/ Aragó 344, offers services based on proximity and a user-centric approach. The office helps process social emergency subsidies, the 0-16 Childhood Fund and specific support for single-parent families, as well as the B-MINCOME municipal income pilot scheme. Information will also be provided relating to other non-municipal benefits, such as the guaranteed income programme by the Government of Catalonia. The centre also issues social residential exclusion certificates, energy poverty certificates and other documents.
Barcelona currently offers some 200 subsidies (municipal, supramunicipal and from social entities), both economic and material. The idea is to reverse that trend, unifying and associating all possible support and managing it in the long-term via a one-stop shop, making day to day social services more agile. According to the Deputy Mayor for Social Rights, Laia Ortiz, the office has been conceived to “dignify support services for the most vulnerable”, who make use of social and economic benefits. “We want to make procedures easier for users, as well as for staff, and that’s why we need a process which cuts out red tape”, she stated.
The centralised service is linked to the constant increase in the number of people receiving support from social services in Barcelona. “Although they say the economic crisis is over, the reality is that the number of people on benefit continues going up and up”, noted Ortiz.
‘Impulsem!’ action plan
The new office is one of twenty measures in the ’Impulsem!’ action plan, the process for changing Barcelona’s social services which places great strategic importance on the simplification of bureaucracy at the city’s forty social services centres.
The service cost 300,000 euros to set up and employs fifteen professionals.