Protecting and Transforming Social Spending Amid COVID-19 for Inclusive Recoveries
Realizing all children’s rights does not come for free. To achieve this indispensable goal, careful planning and budgeting are needed. By collaborating with key partners, UNICEF’s Public Finance for Children work seeks to enhance the transparency, quality and size of public spending on children, to ensure that even the most disadvantaged children are supported.
The emerging global economic crisis threatens to decimate progress made on social spending for children in recent years. Even before the pandemic, social sector spending in most countries was grossly inadequate to address the challenges and inequalities most children faced. Experience from past crises shows that social spending works to protect children. UNICEF Innocenti’s new publication series with UNICEF's Programme Division monitors, advocates for, and supports better social spending.
Each quarter, the series takes a deep dive into a pressing issue affecting social spending. These focused reports include case studies from countries around the world.
Compounding the COVID-19 pandemic is a looming debt crisis for low- and middle-income countries where a growing debt burden threatens to crowd out social spending for children.
This policy brief explores whether the current support from the international community is enough to maintain spending on basic services during COVID-19. It highlights countries that are most at risk due to high levels of poverty, as well as those less likely to benefit from the G20 Debt Standstill (DSSI). It concludes that a new international debt restructuring architecture, which encompasses the needs of poorer countries, is crucial to protecting children’s rights in the wake of COVID-19.
Monthly reports track social spending, highlight any updates, provide key messages on social spending, and identify opportunities for improvements. An accompanying dataset, updated each month, details the financial response to COVID-19 by country. 28 countries will be added each month (four countries from each of UNICEF's seven regions), starting with the poorest countries in each region.
1 in 8 countries spends more on debt than on education, health and social protection combined
FLORENCE/NEW YORK, 1 April 2021 – Around 1 in 8 countries globally spends more on debt than on social services, according to a UNICEF report released today. COVID-19 and the Looming Debt Crisis notes that 25 countries globally – the majority of them already burdened by poverty and deprivation – spent a higher proportion of total government expenditure on debt service in 2019 than they did on education, health and social protection combined. Global efforts are needed to protect social spending, and with it the right of every child to social security, education and health services, says the report.