How many businesses received corona cash support in Sweden?

More than 23,000 Swedish businesses applied for state funding after losing their revenue when the coronavirus pandemic hit. New figures now reveal how many have been granted the cash boost to date.

How many businesses received corona cash support in Sweden?
Most of the businesses that have qualified for the support are hotels and restaurants. Photo: Henrik Holmberg/TT

Several economic measures were introduced during the peak of the coronavirus outbreak in spring to mitigate the impact on businesses, including a so-called business transition support scheme (omställningsstöd) for businesses who lost at least 30 percent of their revenue in March and April.

The deadline for applying for the scheme was August 31st, and the Swedish tax agency Skatteverket has now presented figures showing how many applied and how much money has been paid out.

In total, 23,289 applications for business transition support were sent to Skatteverket, of which 17,700 have so far been approved. A total of 1.3 billion kronor ($150 million) has so far been paid out as part of the scheme, a figure that is expected to increase after recent applications have been processed.

Around 1,100 applications worth 186 million kronor were rejected in a preliminary probe of applications, for example because certain costs such as rent were exaggerated. But Skatteverket's report stresses that rejections were not necessarily due to attempts at cheating the system.

“The errors could be both intentional and unintentional, not all the details of this support are really straightforward,” said Skatteverket control coordinator Conny Svensson, in a statement.

Skatteverket has also launched in-depth investigations into another 1,000 businesses that have received support via the scheme. That has so far led to a total of 19 cases being reported to the Swedish Economic Crime Authority. In some of these cases dividends were paid out to the owners despite the companies claiming the opposite in their application, said Skatteverket.

The business transition support scheme is expected to put a dent in the Swedish state coffers to the tune of seven billion kronor. The majority of companies that have applied for and received the support work in the hotel and restaurant industry or in transport and storage.

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Pensions in the EU: What you need to know if you’re moving country

Have you ever wondered what to do with your private pension plan when moving to another European country?

Pensions in the EU: What you need to know if you're moving country

This question will probably have caused some headaches. Fortunately a new private pension product meant to make things easier should soon become available under a new EU regulation that came into effect this week. 

The new pan-European personal pension product (PEPP) will allow savers to take their private pension with them if they move within the European Union.

EU rules so far allowed the aggregation of state pensions and the possibility to carry across borders occupational pensions, which are paid by employers. But the market of private pensions remained fragmented.

The new product is expected to benefit especially young people, who tend to move more frequently across borders, and the self-employed, who might not be covered by other pension schemes. 

According to a survey conducted in 16 countries by Insurance Europe, the organisation representing insurers in Brussels, 38 percent of Europeans do not save for retirement, with a proportion as high as 60 percent in Finland, 57 percent in Spain, 56 percent in France and 55 percent in Italy. 

The groups least likely to have a pension plan are women (42% versus 34% of men), unemployed people (67%), self-employed and part-time workers in the private sector (38%), divorced and singles (44% and 43% respectively), and 18-35 year olds (40%).

“As a complement to public pensions, PEPP caters for the needs of today’s younger generation and allows people to better plan and make provisions for the future,” EU Commissioner for Financial Services Mairead McGuinness said on March 22nd, when new EU rules came into effect. 

The scheme will also allow savers to sign up to a personal pension plan offered by a provider based in another EU country.

Who can sign up?

Under the EU regulation, anyone can sign up to a pan-European personal pension, regardless of their nationality or employment status. 

The scheme is open to people who are employed part-time or full-time, self-employed, in any form of “modern employment”, unemployed or in education. 

The condition is that they are resident in a country of the European Union, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein (the European Economic Area). The PEPP will not be available outside these countries, for instance in Switzerland. 

How does it work?

PEPP providers can offer a maximum of six investment options, including a basic one that is low-risk and safeguards the amount invested. The basic PEPP is the default option. Its fees are capped at 1 percent of the accumulated capital per year.

People who move to another EU country can continue to contribute to the same PEPP. Whenever a consumer changes the country of residence, the provider will open a new sub-account for that country. If the provider cannot offer such option, savers have the right to switch provider free of charge.  

As pension products are taxed differently in each state, the applicable taxation will be that of the country of residence and possible tax incentives will only apply to the relevant sub-account. 

Savers who move residence outside the EU cannot continue saving on their PEPP, but they can resume contributions if they return. They would also need to ask advice about the consequences of the move on the way their savings are taxed. 

Pensions can then be paid out in a different location from where the product was purchased. 

Where to start?

Pan-European personal pension products can be offered by authorised banks, insurance companies, pension funds and wealth management firms. 

They are regulated products that can be sold to consumers only after being approved by supervisory authorities. 

As the legislation came into effect this week, only now eligible providers can submit the application for the authorisation of their products. National authorities have then three months to make a decision. So it will still take some time before PEPPs become available on the market. 

When this will happen, the products and their features will be listed in the public register of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA). 

For more information: 

This article is published in cooperation with Europe Street News, a news outlet about citizens’ rights in the EU and the UK.