Social Insurance Agency ‘too slow’: report

Sweden's justice ombudsman (JO) has levelled heavy criticism at the Social Insurance Agency for a string of perceived shortcomings.

Much of the criticism surrounds the long waiting times for applications to be processed, especially in cases where people have little or no other means of financial support.

The Parliamentary Ombudsman (Justitieombudsmannen, JO) investigated cases at 13 Försäkringskassan offices around the country.

According to SVT’s news programme Rapport, the inquiry reveals the authority is severely lacking in terms of service and knowledge in matters concerning benefit applications.

In one case, a person had to wait eight months for a compensation decision, despite the fact that Försäkringskassan knew they were wholly reliant on the money in question.

Another example delves into the case of a person in Halland, western Sweden, who was forced to wait half a year until their pension was finally processed.

JO adds in its report that a five-month wait to handle a decision on parental leave benefits is unacceptable. It also points to a separate incident where the serious nature of the agency’s poor service led to secret documents being leaked.

JO is now demanding that the 13 offices in question introduce measures to improve their service and reduce waiting times.

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Fathers make up third of parental leave

Dads are staying at home with their children more in the summer according to statistics released by the social insurance office (Försäkringskassan).

Fathers make up third of parental leave

In August fathers represented a third of those on parental leave compared with 20 percent in December.

Paternity leave researcher Roger Klinth said the figures suggest that women are still the primary carer in the family with fathers taking control over when to take up their leave.

“Dad is more of a bonus figure and can come in when it suits him. It reflects a deeper pattern of who gets to choose and who get the remainder,” he told the TT news agency.

The numbers are a big increase compared to the early 90s when fathers made up just 10 percent of parents taking up paternity leave. To combat this the social insurance office launched a number of schemes to even out the balance like suggesting prolonging holidays with pappeledigt.

“This encouraged men to do exactly as the patterns are demonstrating,” said Klinth who is a professor of gender studies in Linköping university.

In total men’s overall use of paternity leave has grown to almost a quarter. Much of that is attributed to the mandatory two Dad months which was a key component of balancing out the leave among both parents.

Klinth added that he expects fathers to take up more parental responsibility in the future. He suggested that the leave should be broken up into three parts, one for each parent and one to be used as the family wishes.

“That would be a good compromise and a clear indication that the responsibility is expected to be shared.”

TT/The Local/pr

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