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THL: Number of people receiving income support dropping, but remains high

A report by Finland's public health agency THL revealed that nearly 10 percent of children in Finland live in a household that receives basic social assistance.

Henkilö katsoo Kelan esitteitä eri tuista.
The basic social assistance is provided by Kela. File photo. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle
Yle News

The number of households in Finland receiving income support fell by 5 percent last year compared to 2021. However, a report by the Finnish institute for health and welfare (THL) noted that the number of recipients remains relatively high.

According to Finland's benefits agency Kela, the basic social assistance offering is "available to individuals and families whose income and assets do not cover their essential daily expenses" and is often considered a 'last-resort' form of support.

The calculations by Finland's public health agency found that just over 7 percent of the Finnish population received basic social assistance in 2022, while nearly 10 percent of children live in a household receiving the support.

For those aged 18 and over, the proportion is just under 7 percent.

In real terms, the data revealed that around 274,000 households and around 400,000 people were granted the assistance last year, with three quarters of the recipients found to have been living alone. Among that figure, the majority were single men.

Although there were fewer households receiving the support last year than in 2021, the number of new households applying for income support increased by just under two percent.

Inflation, energy costs stretching household budgets

Income support, as defined by the THL report, includes both the basic social assistance provided by Kela and the supplementary income support offered by municipalities.

This supplementary support provided by municipalities bucked the downward trend, seeing an increase in the number of applicants.

"The rise may be explained by the rapid increase in the cost of living, especially energy costs. People on low incomes and living alone have limited room for manoeuvre when costs rise significantly and unexpectedly," THL's Research Manager Paula Saikkonen explained.

The supplementary support can be granted to people who are in severe debt, for example, or to those whose financial situation has deteriorated suddenly and unexpectedly.

In total, about 700 million euros was paid out by Kela under the basic social assistance offering during 2022, while the supplementary income support payments amounted to about 30 million euros.

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