Individual Consultant: Safeguarding Social Spending Amid COVID-19 for Sustainable Recovery

  • Senior-level, Short-term contract assignment
  • Posted on 15 September 2020
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Job Description

Job title: Consultancy - The Social Spending Monitor - “Safeguarding Social spending amid COVID 19 for sustainable recovery” - UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti

Job Number: 534390

Location: Italy

Work Type: Long-term consulting assignemnt

Description: For every child, Research


UNICEF is mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to advocate for the protection of children’s rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential. UNICEF is guided by the CRC and general comment 19 of CRC article 4, which clearly mandates UNICEF to advocate, support and mobilize all stakeholder to ensure effectiveness, efficiency, equity, transparency and sustainability of public budgets to finance key social sectors for children at all times, including the current COVID-19 crisis.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the General comment No. 19 (2016) on public budgeting for the realization of children’s rights (art. 4) underpins all UNICEF’s Public

Finance for Children (PF4C) work, which articulates UNICEF’s efforts to have sustainable impact on the transparency, quality and size of public investments in children. Thus, UNICEF can tackle equity gaps in public funding, which mainly disadvantage the poorest and most disadvantaged children. By focusing on Public Finance for Children, UNICEF aims to influence government decisions on key social sector spending focusing on children, reducing inequities of public spending among different geographic areas and wealth quintiles, and ensuring value-for-money so that children benefit optimally from public spending. As a programme stream, PF4C brings together sector-based and cross-cutting initiatives to influence budgetary frameworks and public financial management processes for the benefit of children. PF4C stresses the importance on engaging with Governments, development partners and International Financial Institutions (IFIs) to protect and safeguard social financing so children can realize their right to basic social services.

The emerging global economic crisis due to COVID19 is severe with long lasting impacts.

Economic forecasts from the IMF, World Bank and OECD are now converging towards predictions of a 4.9-6% global contraction1

. Social sector spending in most countries was

grossly inadequate to address the challenges and inequalities pre-COVID-19. Many countries have increased spending in key areas linked to COVID-19 response. However, we are already seeing reduced spending in other critical areas for children, while spending increases on social protection are almost exclusively focused on temporary payments2

, rather than on longerterm investments, and few are focused on children and families. Governments’ ability to respond has also been affected by their ability to access finance to meet the additional cost of COVID-19 and to finance future fiscal stimulus. In April, IMF estimated that developing economies would need $2.5 trillion for COVID-19 response packages. Many governments have limited options from their own resources and additional funds are needed for equitable and impactful spending, so governments have to turn to increased domestic borrowing or to the international community for concessional finance or debt relief. So far, despite an estimated $11 trillion in additional fiscal measures, most of this is in advanced economies,

which have managed to mobilise resources equivalent to around 9% of GDP on average. In comparison, low income countries have only mobilized around 1% of GDP on average3 . The economic crisis will have major consequences on households and their children, especially those with low incomes. Around 106 million more children are predicted to fall into poverty by the end of 2020 as their families lose income and employment – that will mean almost 700 million children will live in poverty4

. With an average loss of over half a

year’s schooling, children stand to lose the equivalent of $872 per year from their future earnings, a global loss of over $10 trillion5

. Progress on infant mortality will be put back by

between 5 and 15 years; and deaths from malaria are predicted to increase back to pre-2000 levels, 70% of those deaths will be children under 56

. More children are likely to enter child

labour to compensate for losses in household income7

. Safeguarding children’s future over

the years to come requires strong commitment and rapid action on the part of national governments, the international community and the private sector, to protect children from harmful effects of rising poverty and inequality, as well as build inclusive societies.

As the world moves past the initial containment and mitigation phase, into a longer phase of uncertainty, disrupted and reduced economic activity, the need for longer term stimulus and looking for opportunities for economic transformation or “building back better” is taking precedence. Economic and fiscal policies should be deployed to safeguard decades of past investment and mitigate the worse consequences for the current generation of children.

Experience from past crises has shown there is a strong investment case around prioritizing social sectors, even in contexts of economic recession and fiscal contraction. The fiscal stimulus also offers a potential opportunity to propose solutions, use resources more efficiently, and safeguarding investments that are good for children and good for economies.


The purpose of the consultancy is to monitor and track the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic developments on social spending overall and specifically, social spending impacting children, and where possible to analyse the impact of these changes on children, to inform UNICEF’s policy dialogue and country programming. The expected result is a series of externally focused knowledge products on COVID19 and public finance focusing on the socioeconomic impact in relation to social spending, financing and recovery from a child rights perspective. Key issues of concern are - a) to protect social spending and financing of social services for children, in particular the poorest and most vulnerable; b) to support informed decision making on allocation and prioritization of resources to services for children; and c) to support expansion of efficient and effective spending for children over the medium and longer term. d) to better understand UNICEF’s action in PFM/PF4C in responding to the COVID crisis

The three specific results from this assignment are: 1. Monthly Updates: A briefing series that is finalized every month on Social Spending Tracking during COVID-19 and Public Finance from a Child-Rights Perspective, which highlights key updates, provides key messages on social spending, and identifies any arising opportunities. Monthly updates are not meant to be analytical pieces and will depend on publicly available information ; 2. Quarterly Policy Briefs: every quarter, a policy brief is published, which includes deeper analysis on COVID-19 and social spending; 3. Quarterly Webinars: every quarter, and after the policy briefs are published, the quarterly webinars are held to critically discuss the key topics in the briefs and to create a platform for discussion among UNICEF and key partners. Also, the consultant will be responsible to be the overall coordinator for this work and to coordinate the conducting of weekly, monthly and quarterly coordination meetings (online) with the core group, technical working group and advisory group.

The selected consultant will be accountable to ensure the timely finalization of the monthly and quarterly policy briefs and the conducting of the quarterly webinars; as well as coordinating weekly, monthly and quarterly coordination meetings.


This TOR aims to describe the key tasks to be undertaken by an individual consultant, who will work under the supervision and guidance of Office of Research/Innocenti and the Social Policy NYHQ/ PFLG Policy Unit to undertake the finalization of the Social Spending Monitor“Safeguarding Social spending amid COVID 19 for sustainable recovery” as detailed in this TOR. This is not to be a one research piece, rather a series to ensure having a living knowledge product to inform policy and programming for children in the area of public finance. The publications will be framed as policy briefs to be published every quarter. In addition, monthly updates on key developments will be issued at the mid of every month.

The intended audience is external partners, specifically, Governments (Ministries of Finance, Line Ministries, and others), IFIs development partners; together with UNICEF internally at global, regional and country level.

Methodology, Content and Structure

The assignment will entail drafting monthly social spending updates, quarterly social spending policy briefs, and conducting related webinars: (please refer to the timetable for the details on time frame)

  1. Monthly Social Spending & PF4C updates for a total of 9 monthly updates (4-5 pager each)
  2. Quarterly Social Spending & PF4C Policy Brief for a total of 3 policy briefs (15-20 pager each)
  3. Webinars to be conducted to focus on discussing the policy briefs (90 min each)


The consultant will be reporting on monthly basis to the Office of Research and the PFLG unit. The consultant will be required to reach out to regional and country offices as needed to finalize the monthly updates and the quarterly policy briefs.


The consultancy will be on site with no missions or travel.

Duration will be for 11.5 months.



  • Education: PhD in Economics or related field.
  • Work experience: at least 8 years of progressively responsible research experience in economic analysis and public policy.
  • Technical knowledge: PFM technical knowledge combined with technical experience in research and publication; and experience in working with big datasets, macro-economics, comparative series data, and expenditure statistics.
  • Language: Fluency in English.

About the Organization

UNICEF is out to change the world for children vaccination by vaccination, blanket by blanket, biscuit by biscuit, book by book. In most of America, these things are considered completely ordinary. But in many parts of the developing world, they can save a child's life. UNICEF is unique among world organizations and unique among those working with young people. As a global movement, we use our authority to influence decision makers and diverse partners to turn the most innovative ideas into reality. In 155 countries and territories, UNICEF's field staff uses hard-won expertise to meet the challenges facing children and those who care for them. Our history has given us a profound understanding of development and the importance of child health, education, equality and protection in advancing humanity. All that we do helps children realize their full potential. In support of UNICEF's work, the U.S. Fund for UNICEF focuses on five major priorities: education, emergencies, HIV/AIDS, immunization and malnutrition.

More information

TOR-Social Spending and COVID-3_ext.pdf

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