twitter   facebook   facebook
← Overview Database of Innovative Social Policies in Europe

Service vouchers for local jobs and services

Country of implementation
Belgium
General short description of the innovation
The service voucher scheme is a consumer subsidy introduced in 2004, to create jobs in the domestic sector by encouraging demand for these services through highly subsidized prices. It allows individuals or households to pay for the provision of local services to households (cleaning, cooking, ironing, sewing, caring, shopping, etc..). In order to avoid unfair competition, the government has set strict limits to the list of activities that an individual can pay for with service vouchers. / / Services are supplied by non-governmental organisations (NGO?s) and normal companies at prices that can compete with those of undeclared workers. The domestic workers have a contract with a registered service company, but carry out the domestic work at the user?s residence. Users wishing to use these services can purchase service vouchers. Users submit one service voucher per hour of work done by workers. / / There is also an electronic version in place which works similar to the paper version. In this scheme each purchase of service vouchers is added to the user?s electronic wallet. When employees finish their job at the user?s home, they report this to the firm via the user?s phone after which both the firm and the user need to validate the working times. From 2015 onwards, all service vouchers will be handled electronically. /
Target group
Total Population
Policy Field
  • employment
  • family
Type of Policy
  • public
  • publicly mandated to non-state organisation
Duration of the policy
The Service Voucher Scheme came into effect on 1 January 2004. The policy is still ongoing.
Scope of innovation
  • Scope: structural
  • Budgets: Year Budget spent each year /2009 1.212.272.687 *2010 1.430.432.704 *2011 1.655.312.535 /The existence of considerable earn-back effects creates a difference between the gross budgetary cost and the estimated net cost. While in 2011 the gross budgetary cost for service vouchers was 1.655,3 million EUR, the net budgetary cost was however estimated to be around 527,3 million EUR (taking into account all direct and indirect earn back effects).
  • Spatial coverage: national
General description of (intended) objectives and strategies
The Service Voucher Scheme subsidizes labour intensive low-skilled domestic work in order to: / - create jobs, in particular for low-skilled workers / - provide incentives to move from undeclared work/informal economy to the regular labour market / - improve work-life balance by outsourcing domestic work /
Type of ideal-typical strategy for the innovation
  • encompassing security
Type of innovation
  • new form of policy implementation/delivery
  • new policy, practice or measure
New outputs
  • others (better work-life balance)
  • services (domestic household services )
  • subsidies/tax-credits (wage subsidies and tax credits )
Clarification of intended mechanisms, outputs and outcomes (optional)
See Q24.
Intended target group
Lesser-educated people and unemployed, who find it difficult to find a job and risk doing undeclared work
Working age population
  • employment situation (undeclared workers and unemployed)
Actors involved in policy-making/implementation and/or evaluation
  • beneficiaries/users (implementation)
  • central state (regulation (policy making))
  • private for-profit organisations (commercial) (implementation and evaluation )
  • private not-for-profit organisations (e.g. Third Sector organisation or NGO) (implementation )
Clarification of the role of various actors
Accor: voucher issuing company, responsible for creating and distributing the vouchers to the users. / / Users: Individuals, who need household services, need to be registered with the voucher issuing company before they can buy service vouchers. Individuals who need household services need to contact a registered company for the provision of services and pay the worker with the voucher. When users pay the workers in vouchers (for every working hour achieved), they sign it, note the date and the type of work performed. / / Workers: Workers are hired by registered companies and then dispatched to the user?s homes. There are no specific eligibility requirements for workers, except that they must not belong to the user?s family or be resident in the same house. Workers give the service vouchers to the licensed firm that employs them and then pays them accordingly. / / Registered Companies: / Companies need to be licensed as a service voucher company and can be diverse (commercial businesses, temporary work agencies, cleaning companies, companies working in the social sector, reintegration services and public services such as local welfare offices or communities). The firm collects the vouchers that are handed in by the workers and sends them back to the issuing company which reimburses the firm. / / Federal Ministry of Work, Employment and Social Dialogue is responsible for all legislation regarding the system and licensing the companies. Inspection of working conditions and supervision is done by the inspection division of the Ministry. / /
Intended output
  • services (provision of local services to households (cleaning, cooking, ironing, sewing, caring, shopping, etc..).)
  • subsidies/tax-credits
  • working time (Users report a considerable improvement in work-life balance since the introduction of the measure. Service Vouchers allow users to go back to work or increase their working time by outsourcing their household tasks. As regards to users, the service voucher system seems to be in particular beneficial for elderly who need assistance in household tasks. The voucher system is also user-friendly. )
Did the innovation have any outcome related to job quantity?
The initial goal of creating 25.000 new jobs by the end of 2007 is achieved as there were 147.827 service voucher workers in 2011. The Belgian National Office of Social Security estimates that there were more than 63.454 FTE jobs in 2012.fighting/competing with undeclared work resulted in more declared jobs
Intended and unintended outcomes
outcome quantification (proportion of target group): / / / Year Beneficiary users1 / / 2009 665.884 / 2010 760.702 / 2011 834.959 / / The number of vouchers bought and the number of service voucher workers has increased constantly. / / /
Clarification of outcomes in terms of impacting resilience and labour market inclusion
The implementation of the service voucher scheme has been successful on different levels: job creation, fighting undeclared work, improving work-family life balance and creating job opportunities for more vulnerable groups. / / However, the budgetary cost of the scheme is high (see Q10) which raises questions about value for money3. According to this figures, this study showed that the net cost for service vouchers to the public government in 2011 was 3.520 EUR, for each service voucher worker employed1. /
Share this page: