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Finland’s basic income trial to offer participants €550 a month

Finland’s trial of a basic income model is set to start in 2017 and will involve a payment of 550 euros to those selected to participate, according to a working group which on Wednesday published its report on how the trial should work.

Image: Yle Uutisgrafiikka

The basic income experiment was one of the Juha Sipilä government’s most eye-catching projects when it was announced last year, and now there are more details about how the trial will work.

A working group led by Professor Olli Kangas of the Social Security Institution Kela has outlined that the full, unconditional basic income proposal would be too expensive. Instead the trial will target people already in receipt of benefits and offer a basic income at the same level to replace them. That would make the basic income between 550 euros and 750 euros.

People would then be able to take on new work without losing their social security payments, which could remove one of the disincentives to employment. People with income-linked unemployment benefits, which are higher than the state-provided basic unemployment benefit, would continue to receive them.

A ‘pure’ basic income would have to be set at a high level to ensure people on these income-linked benefits didn’t lose out, and as such it was ruled out by the working group.

The trial will focus on individuals aged 25 to 63 with low incomes as that group will provide the best data on whether or not the basic income increases employment. According to the working group a basic income could prevent people falling through the cracks of a bureaucratic benefit system, but it could not on its own remove all the disincentives to employment.

The government will now plan trials based on the working group’s proposals and present them in November.

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