Basic income would produce better results than the much-criticised activation model, views Touko Aalto, the chairperson of the Green League.
“I believe that basic income is by far the more effective approach, and I believe that we’ll move towards basic income also in Finland. The Green League is a strong supporter of basic income and the expansion of the current [basic income] experiment,” he said to Uusi Suomi on Friday.
The Finnish government launched its basic income experiment amid worldwide interest at the beginning of last year. A total of 2,000 labour market subsidy and basic unemployment allowance recipients were randomly selected to participate in the experiment, during which they will receive a monthly basic income of 560 euros instead of their regular benefits.
The participants will remain entitled to the basic income in full regardless of any income they may earn through employment or self-employment. The experiment will continue until the end of 2018.
The activation model for unemployment, in turn, was introduced at the beginning of this year. It stipulates that unemployed job seekers who fail to satisfy a set of activity criteria will lose 4.65 per cent of their unemployment benefits for 65 days.
The objective of both of the systems is to encourage the unemployed to become more active in job seeking and accept short-term job offers.
Aalto viewed that the fundamental difference between the two approaches is how much confidence in the future they instil on the unemployed.
“Basic income is definitely the smarter and more encouraging [option] because people must be given the opportunity to seize job opportunities without having to fear over their livelihood at the end of the month and in the future. The activation model erodes people’s confidence in their future,” said Aalto.
He pointed out that basic income combines two important elements by, first, reducing poverty and inactivity traps and, second, ensuring that accepting job offers is always worthwhile. “It offers people security and continuity in their daily lives. They know what will happen to their income and are able to predict and plan their lives,” he explained.
Aalto also believes the activation model is, at least partly, an attempt to clean up unemployment statistics.
“We’re constantly talking about reducing the number of job seekers. Once you get them participating in the variety of employment services and courses available, they’ll no longer be counted towards the unemployed. I think it’s important to look at the increase in the number of the employed. If you’re participating in activation measures or working three hours [a week], it doesn’t increase employment notably.”
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Martti Kainulainen – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi