Councils to cash in on autumn budget

Local council finances, investments in welfare services and measures to counter unemployment are to be given priority in the autumn budget, according to Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.

The Moderate Party has declared that there is scope in the autumn budget to increase investment in three key areas: to secure key welfare services, to invest in training and education, and reforms to battle the prospect of longer term unemployment.

“We have cause to update our outlook on the economy,” Fredrik Reinfeldt said at a press conference on Monday.

The finance minister Anders Borg had previously described the underlying view of the economy before autumn negotiations with the other Alliance coalition parties.

“There has been a change in the analysis that we made in the spring. The risk of a long, drawn out recession is lower,” he said.

Despite the rosier economic forecast the Moderates still deem it necessary to employ temporary initiatives to counter burgeoning unemployment and the risk of tax rises in local income taxes.

“We prioritize jobs and have to protect the employment that we currently have,” Reinfeldt said with regard to the prospect of lay-offs in core public sector services.

Reinfeldt and Borg were unwilling to specify just how much money local authorities could expect from the autumn budget.

The Prime Minister also spoke about investments in the judicial system as priorities for the budget talks, as well as expressing a desire to find space for a fourth in-work tax credit (jobbskatteavdrag)

The tax credit is an issue that requires tough negotiations with Alliance partners and the Centre party issued an immediate response to the plans.

“We do not only want to see a focus on the public sector, we want to see broader investment in jobs in the form of a general lowering of payroll taxes. This would benefit both municipalities and companies,” said the party’s economic policy spokesperson Roger Tiefensee on Monday.

Tiefensee added that the Centre Party would like to see pensions prioritized.

The opposition Social Democrats’ spokesperson Thomas Östros is critical and considers the Moderates to be irresponsible for talking about further tax cuts.

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Sweden boosts spending on civil defence in spring budget

Sweden is to channel a further 800 million kronor to local government and other organisations to bolster Sweden's civil defence capabilities, the country's finance minister has announced.

Sweden boosts spending on civil defence in spring budget

The new funding, which will go to municipalities, regional government, and other organisations, was announced of part of the country’s spring budget, announced on Tuesday. 

“This will strengthen our ability to resist in both war and peace,” Sweden’s finance minister, Mikael Damberg, said in a press conference. “If the worst happens, it’s important that there is physical protection for the population.” 

The government is channelling 91m kronor towards renovating Sweden’s 65,000 bomb shelters, and will also fund the repair the country’s network of emergency sirens, known as Hesa Fredrik, or Hoarse Fredrik, many of which are currently out of order. 

A bomb shelter in Stockholm. Sweden’s government is spending 800m kronor in its spring budget to boost civil defence. Photo: Anders Wiklund/ TT

Sweden’s Social Democrats are currently ruling on the alternative budget put together by the right-wing opposition, making this spring budget, which makes changes to the autumn budget, unusually important. 

The budget includes extra spending of some 31.4 billion kronor (€299m), with 500m kronor going to extra spending on healthcare,  and 10.3 billion kronor going towards supporting Ukrainian refugees, of which nine billion will come from the aid budget. 

The spring budget also includes the so called “pension guarantee bonus”, or garantitillägg, which will see four billion kronor (€390m) going to those with the lowest pensions. 

The bonus, which was the price the Left Party demanded for letting Magdalena Andersson take her place as prime minister, risks being voted down by the right-wing parties in the parliament.