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Underlying premises

Three criteria were instrumental in determining the nature, the amount and the price of the relevant goods and services. First, they should be conducive to a healthy lifestyle. Second, they should allow persons to make autonomous choices in the fulfilment of their various societal roles. Third, they should be acceptable to the people concerned. For the fulfilment of the first two conditions, we called on assistance from external experts.

On the basis of normative criteria, they formulated proposals for the actual composition of the ten Flemish budget baskets. A dietician with KHK University College was asked to compile minimal yet healthy and balanced nutritional packages. A researcher with the Health Care Department at KHK provided input with regard to health-related satisfiers, particularly in relation to healthcare and personal care. Researchers with the school’s Department of Social Work composed the baskets of satisfiers relating to the autonomy requirement, as well as to clothing and leisure. For the determination of the price tags of the various satisfiers, we relied on input from an economist with the Business studies Department. The latter was asked to purchase the baskets at the lowest possible price, so that they would be affordable to lowincome households. In addition, various external experts were involved in the composition of baskets for which the school possessed no or merely limited research experience (housing and security in childhood) as well as baskets requiring additional external validation (healthcare).

In order for the standards to serve the intended purpose (societal participation), it is crucial that they should be fully accepted, both in society in general and by those who have to make ends meet with such incomes. With this in mind, low-income households were involved in the project from the outset. The steering group included two individuals with day-to-day experience of the difficulties involved in living on a modest income. One of the two also attended the fortnightly meeting of experts. Finally, using the focus-group technique, we gathered information regarding the prevailing spending patterns among low-income households with a view to outlining a framework for menus and shopping lists. After all, it was always the intention that the baskets proposed should be perceived as fair and purchasable (i.e. that it is possible for families to obtain the items using normal shopping routines).


K.H.Kempen Vlaamse overheid CSB ULG