THE NUMBER of low-income people will increase by 68,000 in 2024 as a result of the social security cuts and other cost-saving measures laid out by the government of Prime Minister Petteri Orpo (NCP), estimates the Finnish Federation for Social Affairs and Health (Soste).
Finland would thereby be home to around 808,500 low-income people at the end of next year.
The increase is projected to be the most noticeable in Uusimaa, the most populous region of Finland. There, the number of low-income people is to jump by nearly 13 per cent year-on-year to 203,800.
A consequence of more people sliding into lower income brackets is growing demand for income assistance, according to Soste. Its estimate indicates that around 65,000 new people will apply for income assistance in Finland in 2024.
“Alongside the cuts in social security, there is significant cost-saving pressure on the social and health care services of well-being services counties. Increasing poverty and demand for income assistance at the same time as you undermine social and health care services is a terribly bad equation,” Anna Järvinen, a senior expert at Soste, commented in a press release on Tuesday.
The calculations indicate that also child poverty will increase as a consequence of the cost-saving measures, with children making up 16,700 of the increase in low-income people.
“A family’s poverty can have a long-reaching impact on the life of a young person. Thereby the current income problems of these families will also inflict costs on society long into the future,” reminded Järvinen.
A low-income person is defined in the forecast as someone with less than 60 per cent of the median income in disposable income. Statistics Finland has adopted a similar definition, with its latest data showing that there were around 718,700 low-income people in Finland in 2021.
Soste on Tuesday said its calculations approximate the effects of the spending cuts and cost-saving measures pursued by the government, including the changes to be made to income tax rates, housing support and unemployment security in 2024. The calculations also take into consideration the plan to freeze the cost of living-based increases in some social security benefits.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT