“Integration contract” for new refugees

A conditional introductory payment to newly-arrived refugees is one of the election commitments to be presented by the Social Democrats next week, integration minister Jens Orback has revealed.

Newly-arrived refugees will have to sign a personal contract in which their rights and responsibilities are established.

“I want to make clear the responsibilities for those who come here,” said Jens Orback to Göteborgs-Posten.

The contract will be linked to the financial support the refugee receives.

“If you don’t go to Swedish For Immigrants (SFI) or take a work experience place, you won’t get your introductory payment,” said Orback.

Another condition will be that refugees must become informed about Swedish society.

The amount paid out in return for fulfilling the conditions will be “somewhat over the social benefit” level, according to Orback.

It is already possible for local councils to offer introductory financial support in return for certain commitments. But the integration minister’s decision to link that to a contract – and to have a single nationwide system – marks a toughening in the Social Democrats’ approach.

The Left Party was quick to criticise Jens Orback’s idea.

“Our position is that people should get a sensible introduction. If you have that as your basis, you don’t need penalties,” said member of parliament Kalle Larsson to TT.

“It’s hard to understand why you should make people poorer if the alternative is an introduction which they feel they don’t gain anything from.”

Larsson said he believes that there are major failings in the current introduction, and that the quality varies across the country.

“Many people don’t understand the point of this introduction – it’s seen more as a way of passing the time than a meaningful tool which you need in society or something stimulating,” said Larsson.

He added that there are nevertheless some high quality introductory programmes.

The leader of the Liberal Party, Lars Leijonborg, described the Social Democrats’ proposal as a half-measure, since it is not linked to citizenship. He pointed out that there are many immigrants who don’t get any introductory support at all.

“It could be, for example, a woman who is supported by a man who considers that she doesn’t need to learn Swedish,” he said.

Leijonborg believes that the Social Democrats’ ideas are either copied from Norway – or from the Liberals’ own election manifesto.

“But in Norway they link it with citizenship, and in the Alliance manifesto we have made clear that the link between language courses and citizenship should be examined,” he said.

Leijonborg thinks that the Social Democrats should also link their proposal to citizenship.

“There should be a clear signal which is also sent to people who don’t need financial support,” he said.