The Welfare Watch – Iceland


The Welfare Watch was established in accordance with a cabinet resolution in 2009 as a response to the economic crisis and it was re-established in 2014. The Minister of Social Affairs and Social Security appointed the Welfare Watch, a Steering Committee, with the main role to monitor systematically the social and financial consequences of the economic situation for families and individuals in Iceland and to propose measures to help households and in particular vulnerable groups. Originally the Welfare Watch had representatives from 19 stakeholders, among others from six ministries, Social Partners, NGOs, Union of Local Authorities, The City of Reykjavνk, the Directorate of Health, the Directorate of Labor and the Council of Equal rights of man and women. In 2014 the Welfare Watch expanded and is now a platform with 35 stakeholders represented from all sectors and levels of the society. The Welfare Watch is a governmental enterprise, with chairman and an employee provided by the Ministry of Welfare. Other stakeholders do not get special payment for their participation but donate the time of their representatives to the work (is considered a part of their daily work). The Welfare Watch established the Social Indicators which have been published every year since 2012. The Social Indicators are a collection of indicators regarding democracy and activities, standard of living and welfare, health and social cohesion. The Welfare Watch has frequent meetings and has smaller working task groups. Several proposals and reports have been delivered by the Welfare Watch. Social gradient in health is a fact in Iceland, like in other European countries. The report Review of the social determinants and the health divide in the WHO European Region informed the development of Health 2020, the European Policy framework for health and well-being. The report emphasises that without improvements in all the social determinants of health, there will be no significant reductions in health inequities. Health 2020’s ultimate goal is to achieve health equity by reducing the socially determined inequities in the WHO European Region. The key to success is engagement of stakeholders across sectors and levels, like is facilitated by the work of the Welfare Watch.

Originally, the main aim was to monitor the social and financial consequences of the economic situation for families and individuals and propose measures to help households. In 2014 the objectives where narrowed to focus on families with children and those living in severe poverty. In January 2015 proposals regarding these groups were published and introduced to the Minister of Social Affairs and Housing. The main themes were: child benefits and child social insurance; criteria for the minimum subsistence; the Housing situation; basic service; case coordinators; cooperation with NGO,s and a project fund. Evaluation report for the Welfare-Watch΄s work from 2009-2014 will be available soon. A report regarding the work of the Welfare Watch in 2009: An English report that evaluated the Welfare-Watch΄s work from 2009-2014 will be available soon in English.
Additional information:

(last accessed in March 2017)

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Life Cycle Stages: Whole life cycle | 
Main Settings: public | 
Specific Topics: interdisciplinary coordination of public health activities | 

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