Social services include a wide range of public actions aiming to provide personal support and care to persons in the area of family and child protective services, disability services, long-term care, and services for specific populations, including victims of gender-based violence and refugees, and inclusion services. The aim of these services is to address social risks and hardship for persons who face personal challenges or who need to (re-)integrate into society.

Social services in Spain, as in many OECD countries, are facing numerous challenges to adapt to changing social needs. The population is ageing rapidly, families’ needs are evolving, and service users are becoming more diverse. Mental health disorders are becoming more prominent, social inequalities are growing and policies addressing poverty have become more urgent, including short-term solutions for those who cannot meet their daily expenses. Beyond such changes, countries recognise the need to create social services that are more people-centred, integrated and have a stronger focus on prevention.

This report examines the provision of social services in Spain. It analyses the social services competence framework from a legal and constitutional point of view, and points to the diversity across Spain in terms of the types of services offered, the access conditions and the human and financial resources devoted to social services across the different regions. The report proposes directions for reform to bring Spain’s social services in line with evolving social needs and to set minimum standards to ensure equal access across the country. Particular attention is devoted to creating a new legal framework with consolidated rights, in order to reduce service gaps and improving service quality.

The report was prepared in the OECD Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs (ELS), under the supervision of Ana Llena-Nozal and the senior leadership of Stefano Scarpetta (Director of ELS), Mark Pearson (Deputy Director of ELS) and Monika Queisser (Head of Social Policy). It was written by Rodrigo Fernandez, Sarah Kups and Ana Llena-Nozal, with valuable contributions from Professor Joaquín Pablo Urias Martinez and Laura Flores Anarte (Universidad de Sevilla), Manuel Flores Mallo (Universidad Internacional de Catalunya), and Paola Andrés Soulier. Lucy Hulett and Ricardo Sanchez Torres provided logistical, publication and communications support during the project.

The Project was carried out with funding from the European Union via the Structural Reform Support Programme and in co-operation with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Structural Reform Support (DG REFORM). The co-operation with Patricia Bezunartea Barrio, Maria Dolores Ruiz Bautista and Isabel Tolosana Esteban from the Spanish Ministry of Social Rights and the 2030 Agenda, and Elisa Gómez Alemán from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Structural Reform Support has been instrumental for the project and the report.

The Project benefitted from input to policy questionnaires, discussions, virtual meetings and technical workshops with a wide range of stakeholders over the period November 2020 to July 2021, including representatives of the Ministry of Social Rights and the 2030 Agenda; regional social services; and national and international social services experts.

The views expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of OECD member countries or the European Union.

Metadata, Legal and Rights

This document, as well as any data and map included herein, are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area. Extracts from publications may be subject to additional disclaimers, which are set out in the complete version of the publication, available at the link provided.

© OECD 2022

The use of this work, whether digital or print, is governed by the Terms and Conditions to be found at