Most Finns view that social security benefits are used too freely by people who do not need them, shows a survey commissioned by the Finnish Business and Policy Forum (EVA). (Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva)

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ROUGHLY TWO-THIRDS of Finns are of the opinion that social security benefits are used too freely also by people who do not necessarily need them, finds a survey commissioned by the Finnish Business and Policy Forum (EVA).

The survey examined public attitudes towards social security.

The respondents were asked to express the extent of their agreement or disagreement with, for example, the following statement: “Social security benefits have become earned benefits that are used without hesitation also by people who would not necessarily need them.”

EVA on Monday revealed that 29 per cent of the 2,007 respondents indicated that they fully agree and 38 per cent that they partly agree with the statement. Concerns about the needless use of social security benefits were equally prevalent in all socio-economic groups, ranging from business executives to unemployed job seekers.

Only four per cent of respondents contrastively stated that they disagree fully and 14 per cent that they disagree partly with the statement.

Emilia Kullas, a researcher at EVA, on Monday drew attention to another newly published study that portrays the wealthiest segment of the population as people who are frustrated by inflexibilities, the unemployed and the increasingly lazy society.

Authored by researchers Anu Kantola and Hanna Kuusela, the study has generated widespread public debate about the attitudes of high-income earners since its publication last week.

“But the elite are not the only ones with a frosty attitude to people living on benefits,” highlighted Kullas. “Most of us are just as negative about benefit recipients. Concerns about the unwarranted use of benefits are not only in the minds of the highest-earning 0.1 per cent. They are shared by a great many Finns, and such views are not dependent on socio-economic class.”

Over a half of Finns also agreed with the statement that public welfare services and benefits should be targeted only at those who need them the most and those in the most vulnerable position.

“Finns’ thoughts on social security are fairly conservative. You will receive help if you need it, but loafing is not tolerated,” summarised Ilkka Haavisto, the research director at EVA.

The results, however, also indicate that attitudes toward social security and social security recipients have softened over the years.

Almost four-tenths (38%) of Finns agreed either fully or partly with the statement that the comprehensive social security system is making people lazy and incapable of taking initiative. The share represents a notable decrease from the 45 per cent recorded in 2017 and over 50 per cent recorded in 1992.

Nearly a half of this year’s respondents said they disagree with the statement.

EVA also examined public views on the long-discussed social and health care reform, asking the respondents to choose between two mutually exclusive options: a universal basic income and means-tested social security.

One in six respondents estimated that social security benefits should be means tested, whereas slightly over a quarter (27%) expressed their support for a universal basic income.

The interviews were conducted by Taloustutkimus between 24 September and 4 October 2018.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi

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