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Kela, Finland's social security institution, has released its annual report and financial statement for 2023, revealing that it disbursed a total of €16.6 billion in benefits. The report underscores how societal challenges, such as inflation and the energy crisis, impacted its operations.

"Exceptional times highlight Kela's vital role in society as a pillar of trust, information, and security," said Kela’s Director General, Outi Antila.

Throughout 2023, Finland faced rising electricity prices and inflation. Kela responded by introducing measures such as assistance with electricity costs and increasing the proportion of housing costs covered by basic social assistance. Additionally, temporary benefit increases and a 4.2 percent adjustment to benefits tied to the national pension index helped mitigate the effects of inflation on social security.

The start of operations by the new wellbeing services counties at the beginning of 2023 significantly influenced Kela’s activities. These counties are now responsible for organizing social and health services, functions closely linked to Kela’s duties. Antila emphasized the importance of this cooperation, which has begun positively, to ensure effective service delivery.

The ongoing war in Ukraine also affected Kela’s benefit processing and customer service. From March 2023, Ukrainians residing in Finland became eligible for Kela benefits. However, the number of Ukrainian beneficiaries has been lower and the transition to Kela benefits smoother than initially anticipated.

Kela played a crucial role in supporting the development of Finland's new Government Programme, providing expertise through its Kanta services, researchers, and actuaries. This programme has introduced significant changes to social security benefits. Since last autumn, Kela has been actively informing customers about upcoming cuts and changes, preparing for their implementation through staff training and information system updates.

Antila highlighted the importance of improved data mobility, a key component of the new Government Programme. Enhanced data sharing among public authorities, such as wellbeing services counties and TE Services, is expected to streamline processes and generate savings in public expenditure.

"The emphasis on improved data mobility in the Government Programme is critical. It facilitates better cooperation with partner organizations and reduces public expenditure, making life easier for millions of our customers," Antila stated.

Kela's 2023 report reflects its adaptability and resilience in the face of economic and geopolitical challenges. By implementing strategic measures and fostering inter-agency cooperation, Kela continues to uphold its commitment to providing essential social security services to the Finnish population.

HT

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