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Government plans cap on benefit contributions

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11:09 CET+01:00
After consultation with the Council of Laws the government has made some alterations to its proposed reform of the unemployment insurance system. The new proposition will be presented in parliament on Thursday.

Writing in Dagens Nyheter today, the respective ministers for finance, employment and integration/gender equality – Anders Borg, Sven Otto Littorin and Nyamko Sabuni – revealed that the government will put a cap on increases in the monthly insurance fee.

As a result, unemployment insurance funds will not pay more into the insurance system than they pay out to their unemployed members.

Moreover, while the increase will vary from fund to fund nobody will pay more than 300 kronor more per month than is currently the case.

Changes in the system, such as the harmonisation of state health and unemployment insurances, will come into force on January 1.

The government had earlier stated that it would look at a welfare recipient's previous benefit receipts. Now, having received advice that this would entail serious technical complications, it has decided that the coordination of the various systems will not involve a retroactive aspect.

"It is also reasonable that an increased fee for one unemployment insurance fund is affected by unemployment trends in another fund since the parties on the labour market bear a common responsibility for the wage structure," according to the ministers.

Union group TCO warns that the proposed changes could have a negative impact on part-time workers, students and those who take time of to look after their children, primarily women.

The ministers however reject the criticism that their reforms discriminate against women.

"We are of the opinion that a tightening of the payment regulations is neutral from an equality standpoint."

TCO members began gathering at Mynttorget in central Stockholm this morning to protest against the reforms. The organisation handed out 100,000 flyers to Stockholmers on their way to work.

"This is the largest operation we have ever had, and it is important because a lot of people have not understood what the changes mean," said TCO chairman Sture Nordh.

Mari-Ann Krantz, chairman of the large private sector workers' union Sif, shares the misgivings of other union organisations.

"This proposal has not been thought through properly. It is extremely careless. And I can't understand how it is supposed to create new jobs," said Krantz.

She does not believe that the tax cuts promised by the government offer proper compensation for a weakened unemployment insurance system.

"We have not seen the tax cuts yet and large groups of people are going to be badly affected by the proposed changes to the unemployment system, not least women and students," said Krantz.

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