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ALMEDALEN 2010

EDUCATION

Alliance pledges 9.2 billion kronor for future

The government has pledged to invest 9.2 billion kronor ($1.22 billion) in jobs, welfare and future investments in what it called "the young Sweden," the ruling Alliansen coalition announced on Thursday.

Alliance pledges 9.2 billion kronor for future

Three billion kronor would go to municipalities and the remaining 6.2 billion to elementary schools, teachers and apprentices, the coalition added.

In order to compensate for weak revenue growth next year, the municipal government sector will receive a temporary government contribution of 3 billion kronor. It will be used to protect the health care and social services systems and activities aimed at children and young people.

“We do it because we still feel the need to bridge over the bad situation that has taken place through the recession,” Centre Party leader Maud Olofsson announced at a press conference with the Alliance coalition leaders in Visby during Almedalen Week.

The remaining 6.2 billion would be spend from 2010 to 2014, with a focus on primary education, teachers and apprentices. Targets would include funding teacher training, increasing the amount of spend teaching mathematics in primary schools, expanding the apprenticeship system in senior secondary and adult education and the introduction of grades starting at around age 11.

The government also proposes additional places for adult trade classes for the 2010 to 2011 academic year. Liberal Party leader and education minister Jan Björklund singled out the issues that the government wishes to address.

“There are gaps in the transition from school to work,” he said.

Olofsson, who is also the deputy prime minister and minister for enterprise and energy, spoke about how the struggle for jobs has become increasingly global and singled out educational needs in science and mathematics.

She pointed out the goal of the government’s drive to increase interest in the subjects.

“We have seen that it is declining,” she said.

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt stressed that a large portion of the funds will go hiring more qualified teachers.

“The Swedish school system cannot succeed if we do not have good teachers,” he said.

The government said the latest figures show that municipalities may undergo greater economic development in the coming years. However, municipal revenue growth may still be relatively weak in 2011.

The government hopes that in addition to the 3 billion kronor next year, a permanent increase in a government grant of five billion kronor will help ease the situation for municipal and county governments.

Social Democratic economics critic Thomas Östros was not impressed.

“A big disappointment and a major betrayal of Reinfeldt’s promise to safeguard welfare,” he said.

Östros argued that the extra 3 billion kronor in municipal money next year is “totally inadequate” to counter a trend towards fewer teachers in schools and larger classes in preschool.

However, the difference between the government’s proposal for an additional 3 billion kronor and the red-green’s proposal for an extra 7 billion kronor next year is “only” four billion kronor.

The red-green coalition has promised to invest 12 billion kronor more than what the government has budgeted on welfare in 2011 and 2012.

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READER QUESTIONS

Reader question: When am I eligible for a Swedish pension?

A reader got in touch to ask how long he had to work in Sweden before he was eligible for a pension. Here are Sweden's pension rules, and how you can get your pension when the time comes.

Reader question: When am I eligible for a Swedish pension?

The Swedish pension is part of the country’s social insurance system, and it can seem like a confusing beast at times. The good news is that if you’re living and working here, you’ll almost certainly be earning towards a pension, and you’ll be able to get that money even if you move elsewhere before retirement.

You will start earning your Swedish general pension, or allmän pension, once you’ve earned over 20,431 kronor in a single year, and – for almost all kinds of pension in Sweden – there is no time limit on how long you must have lived in Sweden before you are eligible.

The exception is the minimum guarantee pension, or garantipension, which you can receive whether you’ve worked or not. To be eligible at all for this, you need to have lived in Sweden for a period of at least three years before you are 65 years old. 

“There’s a limit, but it’s a money limit,” Johan Andersson, press secretary at the Swedish Pension Agency told The Local about the general pension. “When you reach the point that you start paying tax, you start paying into your pension.”

“But you have to apply for your pension, make sure you get in touch with us when you want to start receiving it,” he said.

Here’s our in-depth guide on how you can maximise your Swedish pension, even if you’re only planning on staying in Sweden short-term.

Those who spend only a few years working in Sweden will earn a much smaller pension than people who work here for their whole lives, but they are still entitled to something – people who have worked in Sweden will keep their income pension, premium pension, supplementary pension and occupational pension that they have earned in Sweden, even if they move to another country. The pension is paid no matter where in the world you live, but must be applied for – it is not automatically paid out at retirement age.

If you retire in the EU/EEA, or another country with which Sweden has a pension agreement, you just need to apply to the pension authority in your country of residence in order to start drawing your Swedish pension. If you live in a different country, you should contact the Swedish Pensions Agency for advice on accessing your pension, which is done by filling out a form (look for the form called Ansök om allmän pension – om du är bosatt utanför Sverige).

The agency recommends beginning the application process at least three months before you plan to take the pension, and ideally six months beforehand if you live abroad. It’s possible to have the pension paid into either a Swedish bank account or an account outside Sweden.

A guarantee pension – for those who live on a low income or no income while in Sweden – can be paid to those living in Sweden, an EU/EEA country, Switzerland or, in some cases, Canada. This is the only Swedish pension which is affected by how long you’ve lived in Sweden – you can only receive it if you’ve lived in the country for at least three years before the age of 65.

“The guarantee pension is residence based,” Andersson said. “But it’s lower if you haven’t lived in Sweden for at least 40 years. You are eligible for it after living in Sweden for only three years, but it won’t be that much.”

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