In a recent intervention in the General Assembly of CECA, Antón Coasts, current chairman of the Economic And social Council , and possibly one of the economists more humanist of our outlook intellectual, adverted to the Obra Social as the second pillar of the welfare state. Undoubtedly, an affirmation that evidence the far reaching work that the Obra Social develops in our country. However, and as reveals the last opinion poll made by CECA, the dimension and extent of the community project are still, with nuances, relatively unknown. From this perspective, seems opportune to make good use of these lines to go over briefly what is the Obra Social, which has been its path and how contributes to strengthen the welfare state.

The Obra Social is the collection of activities of character benefico-social that they develop today the banking foundations associated with CECA. Between these, above all, those of welfare character, but also the ones regarding the education, research, cultural promotion and, most recently, the environmental protection. Its origin is gone up at the beginning of the eighteenth century with the appearance of the Mounts of Piedad, the companies that its ideological base are considered since they emerged such as elements of social development directed to the most vulnerable people. Three centuries later, this mission still is so in force as then.

Historically, the Obra Social has been developed for the Savings banks but with the coming into force in 2014 of the Ley of BankingSavings banks and Foundations, those were unfolded in two different companies: the credit institutions, that they are those which provide banking banking services and foundations, that they manage the Obra Social. Despite this separation de facto, remains however the link between both companies to guarantee that the profits of the banking business still overflow to the company. Thus, the foundations maintain a qualifying holding in the capital of new banks which they allow financing a major part of its activity via dividends of the participated companies.

Elapsed already eight years from this reform, there is consensus in stating that the new model has contributed in an effective way to preserve the Obra Social foundation intention. Following on from this, it is necessary to remember that, since its beginnings, its priority mission went that one of substitute the poor public services provision that during a lot time had characterised to our country. In this way, the Obra Social as a general rule assumed, the function that it would have credit carried out the State in given subject areas, but especially with those most deprived sections. Subsequently, with the development of the welfare state, the public sector has gone assuming an increasing leading role in the social field, but the Obra Social has followed maintaining an essential role as a complement of the stock of different public administrations.

Thus, is illustrative that from the creation of the banking foundations in 2014, the investment of the Obra Social has reached an equivalent amount at 28.6% of the General Budgets of the State set aside for Social Social Services and Promotion during the period; in total an investment of 6,172 million euros that it has allowed situating to the Obra Social of the CECA companies, year after year, as the private social largest investor of our country.

Regardless of its economic contribution to the welfare state, the Obra Social also it complements insofar as is focused in attending those needs that, generally can not be tackled by the public sector , or of being, are looked after in a basic way given the complexities that they restrict in many cases the public policies, between these, the budgetary, the bureaucratic, the policies and, general, the ones derived from an approach, by the minute, excessively generalist. Deprived of these constreñimientos, the community project can act in a more segmented way and flexible, adapting its programmes to the demands specific to the company and reorienting them with agility when the social emergencies it require. This last was patent during first few months of the pandemic and most recently with the war of Ukraine.

235 million payees from 2014

In addition, thanks to its tall capillarity and I establish territorial, the Obra Social of the CECA companies maintains a narrow surrounding area with the attended groups which it allows detecting in an early way its needs and attend them in a proactive way. All of this explains, for example, because in recent years, in response to the strong rise of the social inequality in our country, the programmes of the Obra Social have been able to prioritise the attention to the most vulnerable groups, that is, the people at risk of social exclusion, the people with specific needs, the people over 65 years old or the childhood and youth. Thus, in 2021, these groups concentrated 60% of the total investment, a percentage that it remains relatively stable from the reform of 2014 and that, since then, has allowed arriving at more than 235 million payees, that is, the one equivalent to the current town of Brazil.

In view of the exposed thing, can say therefore that, for its historic path, its economic contribution and the differential value of its welfare work, the Obra Social that carry out the companies of CECA fulfill an essential role in our company contributing, in a tangible way, to its structuring and cohesion. And although currently, with the boom of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), the business character initiatives are being generalised volunteer to contribute to the social improvement, this work is not still comparable, nor for its spaciousness nor for its impact, with the carried out by the Obra Social. However, is of expecting that the social activities of the private sector are strengthened and they consolidate throughout the next few years Without doubt, in this journey, the Obra Social, as a historic pioneer of the CSR, can be the one referring to follow.

Alberto Aza is CECA's spokesman