An unemployed person scrolling on their phone at home. LEHTIKUVA


Recent cuts to unemployment benefits in Finland are significantly impacting the everyday lives of those without work, according to a survey conducted by the Open Unemployment Fund (A-kassa). The survey, which gathered responses from 812 members in February, highlights the stark realities facing individuals as both existing and forthcoming cuts take a toll on their finances, employment prospects, and daily living.

Deep Cuts to Monthly Incomes

A significant 60% of respondents foresee or have already experienced an impact on their personal finances due to changes in unemployment security, with the majority reporting an expected monthly income reduction ranging from 200 to over 400 euros. This stark reduction underscores the severe effects these cuts have on the standard of living, making it challenging for individuals to manage basic expenses such as loans, bills, groceries, and leisure activities.

Diminishing Employment Prospects

Contrary to government claims that the reforms aim to increase employment, nearly one-third of the respondents believe that the changes will actually hinder their chances of finding work. While 43% felt the changes would not affect their job prospects, a notable 26% remained uncertain about the future impacts. Only a marginal 1% of respondents saw the changes as beneficial to their employment opportunities.

The Impact of Removing the Protected Earnings Allowance

The survey also revealed significant concern over the removal of the protected earnings allowance, which allows for some income without affecting unemployment benefits. Nearly half of the respondents felt that this change would have a considerable negative impact on their ability to accept and seek work, with the modification making it financially unviable to take on part-time, seasonal, or temporary jobs.

A Growing Concern for Financial Survival

The survey highlights the acute anxiety among the unemployed regarding their financial survival. Particularly troubling is the removal of child increments, with 21% of respondents indicating this will significantly affect their daily lives, exacerbating the struggles of families already coping with other benefit cuts.

The extension of the required employment period to qualify for benefits to 12 months was seen as the most impactful change, with over half of the respondents indicating it would have a large effect on their eligibility for benefits. This change is particularly worrying for those in temporary, part-time, or freelance roles, who fear they may no longer qualify for income-related unemployment benefits under the new rules.

Overall, the survey paints a grim picture of the challenges faced by the unemployed in Finland, as substantial legislative changes threaten to further destabilize the lives of those already struggling. The depth and breadth of understanding among respondents indicate a highly informed community deeply concerned about the sweeping implications of these cuts.