Care work sustains life and provides a backbone to societies, although it also expresses and reproduces inequality, not only between men and women, but also according to origin, as most caregivers are women and many are migrants.

This inequality also stems from the relationship between the supports required and received throughout our lives. As people, we require support of different types, intensity and duration and it is the public sector’s responsibility to ensure universal access to supports recognised as rights so that everyone can live an autonomous life.

The care model in the Basque Country is currently under transformation. We are emerging from a model that passes on the responsibility for care work to families and, above all to the women in families. This is a “family-driven” model, traditional in Mediterranean countries, although unfair and failing to guarantee equality.

Consequently, over the last two decades we have been moving solidly towards a social care organisation model, where responsibility and leadership falls to the public sector, and we are strengthening care (health, education and social care) by defining and deploying service provision portfolios, access to which is recognised by law as a subjective right.

Recognition of rights and strengthening of public spending is the fundamental way of removing the family and feminine aspect from care. The annual public spending in the Basque Social Protection System is already more than 10,000 million euros, of which €8,000 correspond to personal services: Basque health, education and social services systems. This €10,000 comes from a maximum tax collection of €17,000 in 2022.

Regarding the Basque Social Services System, between 2011 and 2019, the regular public budget rose from 832.2 to 1,131.9 million euros despite lower tax collection levels than from 2007 to 2017. The forecast is that in 2030, it will reach 1,700 million and 2,000 million during the 2030s.

The new care model is not only a growing public model, but also a community model. Consequently, we are strengthening care in the community, so that people can continuing living in their own home, with the appropriate care, as they usually wish to do, while residential care homes are also being transformed, using a community-driven approach. In this new model:

      • Adult care by family members must be an option. Free, critical, limited, recognised, reconcilable, co-responsible care, with support. The conciliation policy is fundamental and in this term of office, it will increase grants to families with children and conciliation grants and measures, fostering co-responsibility to care for children and adult family members.
      • Furthermore, cooperation with the tertiary social sector and, when appropriate, companies, must focus on full public responsibility and the general interest. Among other aspects, helping to increase administrations’ capability to act or adding value to public service provision in terms of comprehensive personalisation and proximity of care and prevention or participation of the beneficiaries, according to the community model.

The Congress wishes to stand as a milestone on the path towards a public, community care model. It claims to also be a space for prospecting, debate and proposals, for identifying challenges and strategies and for projecting and boosting assessment of public policies, innovation and quality to improve care, making progress in equality and meeting the demographic challenge.

This is a vital resource to work towards a broad consensus regarding our care model, from the principles of equality, public leadership, cooperation, quality and sustainability.