COVID-19: Study on the Financial Situation of the Social Infrastructure in Vienna
In summer of 2020, the study "Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the social infrastructure in Austria" (Millner et al., 2020) highlighted the areas in which social organizations in Austria were severely restricted in their provision of services due to the pandemic-related restrictions as well as the legal measures taken to contain the pandemic.
In 2021, the survey again looked at the impact of the crisis on social infrastructure. The survey was devoted to the current financial situation of Vienna's social economy in general and focused in particular on Vienna's provider organizations in the areas of "nursing and care," "work with the disabled, mobility and counseling," and "assisted living."
The aim of this study, which was commissioned by the Vienna Social Fund (FSW), was to take stock of the social infrastructure with regard to the provision of social services from a business perspective, in order to be able to identify any gaps that may arise as a result of a possible failure of organizations at an early stage and to take action if necessary.
For this purpose, an online questionnaire was sent out to 168 Viennese supporting organizations of the Vienna Social Fund (FSW) in June 2021, which achieved a response rate of 58%. In addition, ten qualitative interviews with managing directors of Viennese social organizations were conducted.
Both surveys focused on the current impact of the COVID 19 pandemic on organizations, i.e. specifically their economic and financial impact, their reactions and measures taken, as well as the COVID 19 support measures taken at the federal and Viennese state level.
The core results of the study on the financial situation of the Viennese social economy show that the support measures taken so far have been able to cushion the negative economic and financial effects of the COVID 19 pandemic, thus keeping the range of services offered by the organizations stable. There has been no easing of the strain on staff, which has had a particularly negative impact on staff motivation.
In summary, the following effects can be seen:
Overall, the negative economic effects predominate.
About two-thirds of the organizations surveyed reported that the COVID 19 pandemic had a negative impact on their operations; at the same time, just under one-third reported feeling no economic impact (30%) or even being positively affected economically (3%).
Impacts differed, sometimes significantly, across sectors.
In the nursing and care sector, there were comparatively high additional personnel costs; corona bonuses for employees and additional costs for protective equipment were or are further pandemic-related cost factors. By comparison, the areas most affected by revenue losses were work with the disabled, mobility and counseling.
Support measures have so far been able to compensate well for the negative impact, but cash reserves are diminishing.
The organizations surveyed indicated that the various measures at both the federal and state levels have worked well. Nevertheless, it is noticeable that the organizations' assessments of their liquidity reserves have become more pessimistic from 2020 to 2021, or that the reserves have generally decreased.
Overall, the economic and financial situation of the sponsoring organizations thus appears to be stable.
On the basis of the survey, there is no indication that Vienna would have to fear a substantial loss of funding organizations and thus a discontinuation of social services. From an economic and financial perspective, the social infrastructure can be classified as stable at the time of the survey.
The COVID 19 pandemic proves to be driver for innovation.
Around 39% of the organizations stated that they had benefited from the effects of the crisis in the area of innovation. The area of work with the disabled, mobility and consulting has benefited the most, while the area of assisted living has benefited the least.
In contrast, the pandemic has had a significant impact on staff.
In general, the workload on staff under these conditions can be classified as high. For example, 59% of the organizations surveyed stated that staff motivation had suffered during the pandemic.