The Finnish government continues to stand behind the so-called activation model for unemployment security, Mika Lintilä (Centre), the Minister of Economic Affairs, assured in an interview with STT on Thursday.
The activation model has recently faced growing criticism from both policy makers and members of the public.
A citizens’ initiative to counter the model has already received over 100,000 statements of support – double the number required for presenting a citizens' initiative to the Parliament. Antti Rinne, the chairperson of the Social Democrats, has pledged to abolish the model if the party finds itself part of the ruling coalition after the parliamentary elections of 2019.
The model was adopted at the beginning of the year in an attempt to encourage job seekers to become more active in their efforts to find employment. It stipulates that job seekers who fail to satisfy the activity criteria lose 4.65 per cent of their unemployment benefits for a period of 65 days.
Job seekers can satisfy the criteria by working at least 18 hours, earning at least 240 euros from self-employment or participating in activities that promote their employment prospects for at least five days over the monitoring period.
The activation model has also created tensions within the ruling three-party coalition. The ruling parties disagree especially on what can be expected of unemployed job seekers who are unable to satisfy the criteria due to their place of residence, according to Helsingin Sanomat.
The National Coalition is widely of the opinion that job seekers can be obliged to re-locate to boost their employment prospects. The Centre, on the other hand, is wary of essentially forcing job seekers to re-locate from rural to urban regions.
“It cannot be that the activation model is used as an excuse to force people to move away from their family and loved ones,” says Antti Kaikkonen, the chairperson of the Centre Parliamentary Group.
Elli Aaltonen, the director general of the Finnish Social Insurance Institution (Kela), has admitted to having some concerns about the activation model and, especially, its impact on demand for other forms of financial assistance.
“If the primary mean of financial assistance drops for people, they will naturally see if their income level is low enough that they are eligible for the last-resort form of assistance. We’ve already got labour market subsidy recipients who are also receiving the last-resort form of assistance,” she explained in an interview with Uusi Suomi on Thursday.
“The outcome must not be that the activation model becomes a route to last-resort passiveness,” she stressed.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Jussi Nukari – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi