As a multidisciplinary centre, the Expertise Centre for Budget and Financial Well-being contributes to building a society in which everyone can participate. We carry out research that can be put into practice, and develop tools and methods for professional practice based on theoretical knowledge. We aim to communicate our findings widely to the public, and to provide scientific advice to policy-makers.
We do this through three areas of expertise. In recent years, we have built up unique expertise in reference budgets for social participation. We use these to calculate how much income a family needs to live a decent life. In the area of poverty, we focus on the policy initiatives needed to promote the social participation of vulnerable target groups. In the area of money and behaviour, we focus on financial behaviour and how it can be strengthened. We focus on consumers and professionals in budget and debt counselling.
In 2023 and 2024, the federal government will allocate €35 million annually to roll out our REMI tool to local authorities throughout Belgium and aid PCSWs provide additional financial support.
Each year we calculate the total cost of living for residential and commuter students. This includes the strict costs of studying, such as enrolment fees, buying courses, ICT costs and expenses for internships or study trips. The calculation also includes wider study costs such as travel to campus, rent and furniture for a student room. Finally, the researchers also estimate the cost of living. Read the article in De Standaard.
The Decade Goals analyse poverty rates on an annual basis. The number of people below the poverty threshold stagnated in 2022 (about 510,000 Flemish people), but at the same time the poverty gap widened. At the same time, there is a substantial population of approximately 500,000 individuals who are hovering near the poverty line. Lifting all incomes above the poverty line is one of the measures proposed by the Decade Goals. They suggest using reference budgets through the REMI tool to show where social minimums still fall short of what is needed for people to live in dignity.
The aim of the Young Academy is the promotion of mutual understanding and trust between the worlds of science and politics. This is the reason why they are organising the exchange programme "Science meets Parliament". It involves 23 scientists spending a day with a politician and vice versa. Our researcher Marieke Frederickx was paired with Stephanie D'Hose (President of the Senate and member of the Flemish Parliament for Open Vld). During the exchange programme, they get to know each other's work better.
Sociaal.Net interview with researcher Nele Peeters. Many people are struggling with debt. Yet we have few hard figures and no rigorous impact studies. That puts the brakes on a good approach. Researcher Nele Peeters has been working on debt and poverty for ten years: "Increasing the minimum income is crucial."