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Councils pay out billions to cash-strapped Swedes

TT/The Local · 30 Nov 2009, 11:35

Published: 30 Nov 2009 11:35 GMT+01:00

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Leaving out payments to refugees, the increase was 23 percent compared with the same quarter last year, according to a new report from Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) based on figures from Statistics Sweden (SCB).

“Many things may have caused the increase, but the largest part is likely due to the prevailing weak economy and increased unemployment,” Mary Nilsson, head of Socialstyrelsen’s division for individual and family care, said in a statement.

Altogether, Swedish municipalities paid out around 2.72 billion ($389 million) kronor during the third quarter, including assistance to newly arrived refugees.

Payment increased in nearly all of Sweden’s 290 municipalities.

So far this year, social assistance payments – excluding refugee assistance – have increased by 20 percent.

The numbers indicate that payments for 2009 will likely rise by more than the 18 percent increase forecast by the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR).

“The rate of increase doesn’t seem to be slowing down,” SALAR’s Leif Klingensjö told TT.

Most in need of payments are young people and refugees, according to Klingensjö.

He said both groups have difficulties getting into the labour market system during tough economic times, and as a result aren’t able to receive unemployment insurance benefits.

“The biggest problem is getting into the job market. If you haven’t had any contact with the labour market, that’s going to be a problem,” said Klingensjö.

In 276 municipalities, payments increased, while 13 municipalities reported a decrease in payments since the start of the year.

The statistics on Sweden’s social assistance also reveal large differences across the country.

Örebro County in central Sweden had the highest increase in payments during the third quarter, 41 percent, followed by Gävleborg County in eastern Sweden, which saw a 37 percent increase in payments.

In Stockholm, social assistance payments increased by 15 percent during the third quarter.

“One can assume that it has to do with the job market,” Nilsson told the TT news agency.

Story continues below…

She added that there may be other connections in explaining the regional differences in social assistance payments such as unemployment insurance payments which have been much lower than both the government and the National Public Employment Agency (Arbetsförmedlingen) expected.

According to Nilsson, the increase in social assistance payments may be a related phenomenon.

“There are a lot of people who aren’t members of an unemployment insurance fund (a-kassa), so that connection may exist,” she said.

In addition, it has become harder for people who have lost their jobs to fulfill the conditions required to receive unemployment insurance payments.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:52 November 30, 2009 by Beynch
"Excluding refugee assistance", "..leaving out payments to refugees"? For the sake of completion of the story, what if we INCLUDE refugees, then how much is the increase in social assistance?
14:13 November 30, 2009 by peropaco
Hej Beynch. That's the 64.000 dollar question?

And since they are not allowing comments on Carl Bildt remarks concerning Switzerland vote on banning minarets; I will do it here. I think the Swiss did the right thing in allowing the people to decide as opposed to letting the government do it for them. Whether the decision was unbiased or not, the people had the choice and they voiced it. I know this is something Bildt does not understand since he is part of a nanny state which is used to making decision for its mental handicapped citizen's. Example, when and where to buy alcohol or medicine.
14:36 November 30, 2009 by Beynch
Well Peropaco, our elected officials seem to, increasingly, have difficulty with the whole concept of democracy, altough mostly on the left. It's the besserwisser: "Shut up and do as I tell you. I know what's best for you". But Bildt is no exception. They get comfortable in their positions of power, and think they can crack the whip over their minions, and dictate views and opinions. They prefer not to hear any opposing opinions. Wonder what the minaret issue would be if it came to a plebicite in Sweden , or any other European country for tha matter? Hmmmmm. Time to take back Sweden at the ballot box in 2010!
15:00 November 30, 2009 by peropaco
Beynch, I agree. The Swiss exercised their democratic right and the results speaks for itself. Now, I don't think we will ever see a plebiscite in Sweden regarding minarets. The government knows best and consequently they will hand out the building permits left and right.
15:26 November 30, 2009 by Beynch
By the way, in the German version of The Local, thelocal.de, the minaret story IS open to comment and free flow of ideas.
17:41 November 30, 2009 by insect
Back to the original story.

I believe they have to leave out refugees because contrary to what most people think, refugees are paid for by the UN. The people who actually depend a lot on taxpayer money are the Assylum seekers so maybe the local should have said not counting the assylum seekers instead.
20:42 November 30, 2009 by Russ Cobleigh
stop sending all the jobs to China!
21:51 November 30, 2009 by Beynch
@Russ Cobleigh; Now those were some wise words. Thanx.
07:45 December 1, 2009 by xykat
In this bad economy I think everyone is hurting, Swedes, foreigners, immigrants, all of us. Everything is more expensive and money doesn't go as far as it did in past years.

Its more of a struggle this time around to depend on dwindling unemployment payments and there are so many people unemployed now or are becoming unemployed in the new year. I think a lot of people have the situation where they might have enough to pay some bills but not much more and not enough to pay all their bills. If a financial emergency appears then it takes them under so they need to sell things or apply for social bidrag.

Say you had a good job making between 20-30,000 but you get laid off from the job and only make 10,000 or less in unemployment every month. You live in an apartment that costs 4-6000 or more to rent or pay for per month. You need the rest for food and other bills. It doesn't give people much of a margin. I can't imagine what its like for people who have not paid to the union/akassa.

So I think people in general don't have much of a margin to work with. In this kind of situation its easy to go over the edge financially.

I think its strange that housing prices, rent, food, etc still remains high and hasn't fallen so much.
17:33 December 1, 2009 by vladd777
My daughter, on the train to Örebro, just messaged me that a jacket she wanted to buy but didn't because it cost more than 1000SK is being worn by a 'refugee'! I have noticed that many 'refugees' that bring their kids to the day care center where i work have newer cars and suvs. I do wonder where they get the cash?
19:05 December 1, 2009 by insect

Here are some possible answers:

Chances are that your daughter had bought a more expensive phone or unnecessary makeup with the money she could have used to buy the jacket while the refugee thought it was a better investment to buy a good winter jacket which they will use for as long as possible

Maybe unlike native swedes who save every single dime in order to go on holiday in a warmer climate, the refugees on the other hand spend the money they get because they dont have the option of going on holidays yet.

It is very easy to drive a luxury car if you buy it second hand and there are no better price bargainers than people from the developing nations.

These cleaning jobs and newspaper jobs actually pay a lot more than people think hence the abundance of spare cash

There could be a whole lot of reasons. But my question is, why do you find it an impossible thoguht for a refugee to afford something you yourself or your family cannot afford?
20:03 December 1, 2009 by BCR
I do wonder if someone will put Sweden up for sale on e bay when they file for bankruptcy - just like they did with Iceland.

Welcome to the prelude of Chapter 11...
20:30 December 1, 2009 by vladd777

- Nope. Daughter decided not to go for the 'name' jacket and bought a 'no-namer' instead.

A 'principle' thing considering there are so many people who don't own a warm jacket.
18:00 December 2, 2009 by insect

Here is how it works normally with investments and I believe winter jackets being so expensive fall under.

Plan A: Expensive costs 1000 lasts more than 6 years unless you gain weight or something

Plan B: Cheap costs 400 lasts two years so you end up buying a new one at least three times

400 x 3 jackets = 1200

I will take plan A any day.

But my reaction to your story was that you said in your first comment that your daughter wanted the jacket but couldnt afford it and was wondering how a refugee could afford it. Now in the second comment your story has changed to your daughter was so principled and preferred to buy the cheap stuff cos some people dont own warm jackets? Cmon...
19:30 December 9, 2009 by nice1stu
My reaction to the story is... How can you tell someone just sitting on the train is a "refugee"? Is there some sort of bracelet they wear, sign they hang around their neck or is it tatooed on their forehead....
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