EMIN successfully organized its first peer review on coverage and take-up of benefits on 13 and 14 March in Helsinki Finland. EMIN teams from Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, Portugal, Spain and UK participated and presented reports on the state-of-play in their countries. A general introduction to the subject was delivered by Anna Ludwinek from EUROFOUND, who published research on the problem. Special attention was also given to the basic income experiment that is running in Finland, since this could inspire policy makers on the advantages of less conditionality for benefit receipt. We were also inspired by the policy of Scotland where the government puts a lot of emphasis on the social right of people to receive the benefits they need. The presentations of all speakers and of national EMIN teams were published in our message of 27 March.
Contrary to reports in the international press, the basic income experiment in Finland will continue until the end of 2018 as planned. During the experiment that was launched in January 2017, 2000 unemployed persons between 25 and 58 years who are chosen at random, receive 560€ monthly. If their previous income was higher, the basic income is topped up. They can keep the basic income also when they find a new job. The aim of the experiment is to see if basic income can increase employment and simplify the social security system. At the EMIN peer review on coverage and take-up, Olli Kangas from KELA, the social security administration in Finland, presented the experiment, in which EMIN took as particular interest because it significantly reduces conditionality attached to benefits.
However, the same conservative government that introduced the experiment in Finland doesn’t seem to support the experiment anymore. It will not expand the experiment in following years to cover more people and target groups, as requested by KELA research group and some NGO´s. On the contrary, the government has introduced more conditionality to unemployment benefits, so called “Active model”, which cuts around 5% of the unemployment benefits, if one fails to satisfy employment officials that they have either worked for 18 hours, participated in training or pursued entrepreneurship in a 65-day period. https://yle.fi/uutiset/osasto/news/punishing_people_for_lack_of_results_one_mans_fight_against_new_unemployment_benefit_rules/10003995
Two of the three parties in the government has also started to talk about new schemes, such as the universal credit, comparable to the UK scheme that is already proving to impose excessive conditions on people receiving the benefit, and thus creating a considerable risk for high non-take-up, pushing more people into poverty.
All this without even waiting for the evaluation of the basic income experiment that will be done after the end of this year. This proves again that often more conditionality in benefits schemes is imposed, without clear scientific evidence and for purely ideological reasons.
EMIN Finland -network is taking part in BIEN Congress, 24-26th August at Tampere, Finland https://events.uta.fi/bien2018/
– Kela: The Basic Income Experiment in Finland will continue until the end of 2018 http://www.kela.fi/web/en/news-archive/-/asset_publisher/lN08GY2nIrZo/content/contrary-to-reports-the-basic-income-experiment-in-finland-will-continue-until-the-end-of-2018?_101_INSTANCE_3a1vR0IztzeZ_redirect=%2Fweb%2Fen
– Honkanen & Pulkka: Tackling Poverty and Social Exclusion with Unconditional Money; Notes on the Finnish Basic Income Experiment https://helda.helsinki.fi/handle/10138/230917