Dimitri Mortelmans, Laurent Snoeckx and Peter Raeymaeckers
Peter Raeymaeckers, Bettina Leibetseder, Robert Fluder, Erika Gubrium and Danielle Dierckx
In this chapter we focus on social assistance services, such as housing, childcare, counselling and other types of benefits, that are provided to people receiving a guaranteed subsistence income from the state, defined here as social assistance beneficiaries. These services are delivered by social workers in public agencies, often collaborating with other public and non-profit service providers at the local level. We specifically address how these social assistance services have been affected by the so-called ‘activation turn’ in social assistance. We present evidence on the horizontal division of labour between local government actors and a variety of service organisations (public, non-profit and private) and how this division of labour is affected by activation policies in four European cities: Graz in Austria, Antwerp in Belgium, Berne in Switzerland and Oslo in Norway. At the end of the chapter we reflect on the consequences of the activation turn in terms of increasing pressure on local actors. We hypothesise that the latter are increasingly ‘creaming the crop’ by creating a selection mechanism that favours the ‘best’ clients, those who are able to make the transition towards the labour market, over the ‘worst’ clients, those who are not able to find a job.