The government's plans to make changes to housing benefit payments for people living on social assistance has been heavily criticised during the proposal's consultation phase.
The proposed legislative change would see recipients of the support having to find an alternative place to live if their rent is deemed to be above the limit, as set by local or regional authorities.
"Applicants whose costs exceed the standard rent will be given a period of three months to find more affordable housing in their travel-to-work area, after which refusing an offer of more affordable housing will lead to an adjustment of assistance," the right-wing coalition's programme for government states.
The government wants the legislative change to come into force by July next year.
According to the government's calculations, about 56,000 income support claimants currently live in an apartment where their rent exceeds the set limit.
The law change would reduce expenditure on income support by 31 million euros, the government stated, with the savings split 50/50 between the government and municipalities.
Fear of increase in evictions, default notices
As with any government proposal, the plan to cut social housing assistance goes through a consultation phase, when ministries and state agencies provide the government with feedback.
The housing assistance proposal has been roundly criticised, with many pointing out that Finland already faces an acute shortage of affordable rental housing, especially in urban areas.
Parliament's Deputy Ombudsman Mikko Sarja noted that in the case of housing assistance payments, the assessment of its conditions cannot be based on limits set by the authorities without wider consideration of the family's situation on a case-by-case basis.
He added that the government's proposal should be submitted to Parliament's Constitutional Law Committee if it is to proceed in its current form.
Marko Leimio, a specialist at the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman's office, said the changes could lead to an increase in the number of people experiencing discrimination in the housing market.
"The change could have a detrimental impact on an applicants' financial situation, as well as an increase in the number of evictions and default notices," Leimio said.
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