Sweden targets support to most vulnerable in tight spring budget

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Sweden targets support to most vulnerable in tight spring budget
Finance Minister Elisabeth Svantesson announces Sweden's spring budget. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Sweden's government has announced 720m kronor in targeted support to help economically vulnerable households in an otherwise tight spring budget which made fighting inflation its chief priority.


The budget marked a drastic reduction in additional spending, with just 4 billion kronor (€350m) added to the annual budget, compared to the 31.4 billion in the last spring budget announced by former Social Democrat government in April 2022. 

 "We are facing a tough economic situation," Finance Minister Elisabeth Svantesson said in a press release announcing her government's spending plans. "Many people are battling to get together the money to pay the bills and that's why it is so important for the government to fight inflation and support those who have it the hardest."


To help struggling families, the government is temporarily raising housing benefit for the poorest households by a total of 720m kronor, and is also investing a similar amount in vocational education to get more people back to work. 

But Svantesson argued that current high inflation levels meant it would be irresponsible to cut taxes on labour, something that her Moderate Party said it hoped to do during the election campaign. She said that the government would do this, however, as soon as inflation was under control. 

For the same reason, Sweden's municipalities and regions, which are facing heavy losses this year due to sharply rising costs, will have to wait until the autumn to find out if the government will increase their funding, she said. 

The municipalities and regions say they expect a deficit of as much as 24 billion kronor next year and have called for additional support. 

"Many municipalities and regions are struggling right now. It's a tough time," Svantesson said. "We are following developments carefully and realise that they are going to need more. I'm pretty sure about that." 

The spring budget also brought in 660m kronor in increased funding for the armed forces, 300m kronor more for prison and probation, and 100m kronor to provide Svenska För Invandrare (SFI) lessons to Ukrainian refugees living in Sweden. 

Sweden's SFI system provides free language lessons for immigrants to the country, but has so far not been offered to Ukrainians who came to Sweden in 2022 under the EU's Temporary Protection Directive, as they were not expected to remain in the country for the long-term. 

In its forecast underpinning the budget, Sweden's finance ministry warned that Sweden was going into an economic slump that would last for at least three years, with the government now expecting a one percent fall in GDP in 2023 and inflation over the year as a whole at 8.8 percent. 


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