Student loan body hunts for cheats

Sweden's student loan authority (Centrala studiestödsnämnden, CSN) has expanded its search for those who cheat the system, after an investigation showed that a large number of people had been lent money to which they were not entitled.

Student loan body hunts for cheats
Photo: IT University in Kista/Image Bank Sweden (file)

A review of 4,500 students showed that 1,500 or a third of the total had wrongly been lent money. CSN says it expects to report 145 cases of suspected fraud to the police. The errors cost 15 million kronor ($1.97 million).

The investigation is now being expanded to 30,000 people who studied full-time for at least 20 weeks in 2009 .

When all full-time students have been checked, it is estimated that the sum will have risen to between 50 and 100 million kronor. A significant source of fraud is students who claim loans for full-time study, but are not registered at university full-time.

“It is serious that we have given money to the wrong students,” said Klas Elfving, press secretary at CSN.

“However, we grant a total of 23 billion kronor each year, so we do not think fraud is especially prevalent if you look at the big picture.”

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Swedish government offers tax deferral to businesses

High energy prices and high inflation are hitting Sweden's businesses hard. With energy price subsidies for these consumers delayed, the government is now extending existing tax deferral schemes implemented during the pandemic to ease the pressure.

Swedish government offers tax deferral to businesses

Finance Minister Elisabeth Svantesson and Energy and Business Minister Ebba Busch announced the scheme at a press conference on Thursday.

“Many, many companies are now struggling with their liquidity,” Svantesson said.

The deferral scheme is similar to that proposed by the previous government in order to ease the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on companies, which was due to run out in February. The government has now proposed extending this scheme, allowing companies to delay their tax payments.

“These proposals will make things easier for many businesses,” Svantesson said.

The tax deferral scheme is not, Busch explained, being introduced as a replacement for the energy price subsidy for businesses which was supposed to be paid out “before Christmas” and which has now been withdrawn temporarily while the government figures out how it can be introduced without breaking EU law.

“No, rather this is a measure we’ve been looking at for a while, which should be seen as a complement,” she said.

According to rough estimates, the government believes that around 12,000 companies will apply for tax deferral, which would mean around 16 billion kronor in tax payments being delayed until a later date.

Företagarna, Sweden’s largest organisation of business owners representing around 60,000 companies across different branches, has welcomed the move, despite also voicing criticism that it’s just pushing these problems further into the future.

“It’s a loan and all loans need to be paid back over time,” Företagarna’s CEO Günther Mårder said.

Företagarna did, however, agree that the scheme will be necessary for some businesses to survive.

“Most companies going under are doing so because of liquidity problems, and this new measure will strengthen liquidity in the short-term,” Mårder said, adding that the measure could “save businesses”.

However, with many businesses already owing back taxes delayed during the pandemic, Mårder believes this could just be adding to the mountain of debt already faced by some companies.

“It means it will be record-breakingly difficult to get over this hump,” he said. “What they’re doing now is pushing problems into the future, and of course, that’s also a solution.”

The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise is positive towards the government’s proposal, adding that the many Swedish companies are currently in a difficult situation.

“Since the repayment of bottleneck revenues [energy price subsidies] is delayed, it is good and fair that companies have the opportunity to extend their tax deferrals,” Jonas Frycklund, vice chief finance officer of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise wrote in a statement.

“This will lower the risk of having to let employees go unnecessarily.”