Henk Kool, vice mayor of The Hague and chair of our social affairs forum, explains why cities are best placed to respond to social challenges
Following our Cities for Active Inclusion conference on 25 September 2013, we asked Henk Kool,vice mayor of The Hague and chair of our social affairs forum, to share his views on the role of cities in including the most disadvantaged people into society.
Why is active inclusion important in our cities?
In this time of crisis, a lot of people are faced with social problems. Our cities are taking the biggest hit in rising unemployment and poverty levels. We, as city policy makers, are responsible for delivering most of the public services, which are well-placed to identify social problems.
Investing in social issues is important and we have seen that investing at an early stage can help prevent higher costs in the future.
How will the recommendations of Cities for Active Inclusion feed into the implementation of the Social Investment Package (SIP)?
Cities for Active Inclusion has just presented its final report, which highlights the range of measures being taken by Europe's city authorities to promote active inclusion. One of the recommendations to the European Commission is that the principles of active inclusion should be extended and integrated into all the actions put forward in the Social Investment Package (SIP). The work our cities are doing is invaluable for the better understanding how active inclusion policies function on the ground within the spatial context of our big cities. And not only that, it has also equipped us to engage in the future of the SIP.
What can cities do now to promote active inclusion?
In these times of austerity, cities must demonstrate that people can rely on us. Our local strategies need to connect with and respond to the needs of people. So we have to keep in close contact with our residents. Different city departments, such as employment and education, have to work together so that we have a safety net in place for people when they need it.
On a local level we have to work to refine the system and deal with changing circumstances. As chair of the EUROCITIES Social Affairs Forum we translate these actions into priorities. We are aware of the effects of the crisis, and we and our systems have to be proactive.