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Swedish parents caught faking kids' sick leave

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Swedish parents caught faking kids' sick leave
06:52 CEST+02:00
Record number of parents are being caught cheating the Swedish benefits system, which allows them to get paid for looking after sick children.

Sweden's famously generous welfare politics include paying out up to 80 percent of a salary to parents who stay at home to look after their children if they are ill. It is called 'VAB', which stands for 'vård av barn' (care of children).

But after the Swedish Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan) launched a crackdown on parents wrongfully claiming benefits payouts, it appears the idea has become a little too popular.

A total of 530 mums and dads were reported to the police last year, suspected of attempting to cheat the system. In the first few months of this year, the agency has already filed police reports on 400 parents, 241 of whom are mums.

In most cases it is believed the parents worked while claiming benefits, according to a report in the Dagens Nyheter newspaper citing the figures.

Parents have so far this year been asked to pay back 32.4 million kronor ($3.92 million) in wrongful payouts and damages. Over the whole of 2015 the same sum was 39.6 million.

In November, Niklas Löfgren, family economics spokesperson at the Social Insurance Agency, told The Local that media should not jump to the conclusion that Swedish parents are getting greedier. He said the rise is likely caused by the agency stepping up its work to crack down on benefit crimes.

"On top of doing randomized checks, we now carry out systematic controls using certain criteria that point in the direction of potential offenders. (…) It is not totally uncomplicated and we can't reveal the exact method because then it may no longer work," he said.

"It's important to note that most people do behave," said Löfgren. But when asked about some of the strangest claims the agency has received he added at the time: "We did have one person last year who asked why she wasn't allowed to claim 'VAB' to look after her dog. But, no, that didn't work."

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