The Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela) has expressed its preparedness to consolidate a number of minimum-level benefits as per the proposal of an inequality task force appointed by Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre).
Kela had several representatives in the task force headed by Juho Saari, a professor of social and health policy at the University of Tampere.
The task force proposed last week that a new unemployment act be adopted to merge the social assistance, sickness allowance, parental allowance, labour market subsidy, general housing allowance and basic unemployment allowance into a single benefit.
Kela estimates that the practical implications of the proposal would be that benefit recipients would only have to submit a single application and would only receive a single decision from Kela. The proposal would also make employment a more financially attractive proposition to benefit recipients by establishing a clear-cut maximum income limit.
The merger, it adds, would also increase predictability and decrease bureaucracy.
“The customers would in the best case only have to submit a single application, while Kela would only have to enforce a single law,” summarises Elli Aaltonen, the director general of Kela.
Finland’s current social security legislation has left many benefit recipients in a situation where they do not benefit financially from earned income. Kela believes merging the benefits would tear down inactivity traps by allowing basic social security recipients to earn income without losing a share of their social benefits.
“Working would be worthwhile because the recipients could anticipate how much of the additional earnings goes into their own pockets,” it explains.
The task force’s proposal would have no impact on the level of benefits as it has been designed to be cost-neutral.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi