The main objective of the TAKE-project is to investigate non-take up (NTU) across Belgian public policy provisions. TAKE aims to make progress on three dimensions: how big is the problem, how can it be explained, and how should policy be (re)designed in order to maximize take-up? In addition, the project aims at examining the consequences of NTU in terms of budgetary impact and equity and at identifying the possible best practices in monitoring NTU by public administrations.
For doing so, TAKE will adopt a multi-benefit approach. The focus of attention is on households with low incomes. TAKE will investigate how NTU in a variety of public goods and services affects their living standard, and how NTU can be reduced across public provisions. This project aims to jointly assess a wide variety of public provisions for citizens and companies: cash social assistance (both for the elderly and those at active age), cost compensatory benefits targeted at low income households (e.g. the 'Beneficiary of Increased Reimbursement'(BIR) in health insurance, reduced tariffs for utilities and mobility), social services (e.g. debt counselling, labour market counselling) and employer wage subsidies targeted at the low-skilled.
Methodologically, the TAKE project makes use of a range of data sources and innovative research methods.
First, we will collect new survey data which allow for a proper investigation into NTU in Belgium. We will carry out a survey, which is expressly tailored to the needs of making an integrated in-depth study of the size, characteristics, causes and consequences of NTU of policy measures targeted at vulnerable groups. A sample will be drawn from administrative data available to the Crossroads Bank on Social Security (CBSS).
Second, for identifying NTU, one also needs a model which replicates the eligibility tests on the basis of the variables in the survey. The existing static tax-benefit microsimulation model MEFISTO will be extended and refined for doing so. MEFISTO has been developed in the framework of the IWT-SBO project 'FLEMOSI: a tool for ex ante evaluation of socio-economic policies in Flanders' (2010-2013) (see http://www.flemosi.be/easycms/MEFISTO).
Third, TAKE will make use of a field experiment to test the effect of various triggers and encouragements on the uptake of the "Beneficiary of Increased Reimbursement" (BIR) statute within health insurance.
Fourth, in order to study the institutional context, we will develop TAKE_ISSOC (working title), i.e. a structured and searchable database which contains the details of eligibility tests of the social benefits covered by the project and how they are implemented in practice. In addition, TAKE_ISSOC will cover measures that public administrations currently take to reduce NTU, and current monitoring practices and their outcomes with regard to NTU. The TAKE project will gather similar information on Sweden and the United Kingdom in order to identify and assess good practices.
Fifth, TAKE will exploit existing administrative data collected by public agencies to investigate NTU of employment subsidies targeted at the low-skilled and other vulnerable groups in the period 2004-2013. Longitudinal administrative data from the National Social Security Office (NSSO) and from the National Employment Office (NEO) will be used for doing so.
Six, to better understand the reasons for NTU of employment subsidies, the existing survey on administrative charges will be used. This survey measures the costs of administrative charges related to employment legislation incurred by employers in Belgium. TAKE will be able to gather valuable information on non-take up of wage subsidies by adding specific questions to this survey.