>Slovakia: New social services law highlights creeping statism

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Slovak daily Sme reports on an amendment to the Law on Social Services passing through the Slovak parliament supported by the ruling centre-left Sme that obliges regional authorities to take social services from public providers (preferably ones they have established themselves) and only then, if there is no capacity to, use private/third sector providers. Social services clients can opt for non-state providers but lose care allowances, if they do (some choice). Opposition deputies criticized the amendment as denying choice and suppressed civil society/the third sector. Doubtless there are a few counter-arguments about cost, quality and risks of commercialization, but the Slovak system seems in striking contrast with the recently reformed Czech Social Services law, which seeks to diversify the range of providers within a new toughened up inspection framework and add in offer some element of client/customer choice. Slovak regional authorities protest they simply don’t have the cash to run social services properly, although lack of resources is also a problem affecting the new Czech system.
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