Four billion people have no social welfare support: ILO

More than half of the global population – four billion people – have no social security protection, UN employment experts said on Wednesday.
In a new report on benefits, the International Labour Organization (ILO) highlighted how this protection gap is an obstacle to sustainable development.
ILO’s Director-General said that although many countries had improved social protection for their citizens in recent decades, much more investment and political will are needed to extend cover.
Daniel Johnson has more.
Social security protection is a basic human right, ILO head Guy Ryder told journalists in Geneva.
When people have it, governments reap the benefits.
Today however, Mr Ryder explained that only 45 per cent of the global population have access to at least one social benefit, and only 29 per cent have comprehensive protection.
“In 2017, this global lack of social protection is I think and should be regarded as being completely unacceptable…and that means that the aggregate level of public expenditure on social protection needs to be increased to extend social protection coverage particularly in Africa, in Asia and the Arab State countries where marked under-investment in social protection prevails.”
Despite a slight improvement in welfare coverage since 2015 around the world, much more investment by governments will be needed to extend protection to all – not least the 1.3 billion children who have no cover whatsoever.
ILO says this is particularly true in rural areas, where 56 per cent of people lack health coverage, compared to 22 per cent in towns and cities.
Some countries are already tackling the problem by offering simplified tax returns to workers previously in the informal sector.
Once on the government’s books, contributions from these workers help pay for maternity leave, job-seekers’ allowance, disabilities benefit and care for senior citizens.
The evolving world of work and technology has also provided new opportunities to extend social protection, ILO says.
In Uruguay, for example, e-taxi provider Uber’s drivers can download a phone application which automatically deducts their social security charges.
Elsewhere, ILO warns that progress in welfare protection risks being pushed back – the result of fiscal savings put in place after the global economic crisis.
This is likely to be the case in Europe, the agency’s Isabel Ortiz warned, where pensioners in 19 countries face lower benefits by 2060.
“You have to balance equity with sustainability,” she told journalists.

Source: United Nations Radio

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