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Basic income pilot takes shape - mandatory participation for 2,000 unemployed

Finland’s Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is preparing to roll out a basic income trial from 2017. Its blueprint for the pilot involves selecting 2,000 unemployed persons for compulsory participation in the project. They’d receive a basic monthly tax-free income of 560 euros.

Avoin kukkaro ja kolikoita.
The current proposal from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health sets the basic income at 560 euros per month. Image: Jyrki Lyytikkä / Yle

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is rushing to finalise the details of a basic income trial that it hopes to introduce from the beginning of next year. A proposal for implementing the programme is currently being circulated for comments.

Currently, the proposal advocates selecting 2,000 individuals who are receiving unemployment benefits, basic unemployment allowance or labour market support. The random selection would be in the 25 – 58 age group and their participation in the trial would be mandatory to ensure that the results are not distorted.

Because of the compulsory nature of the pilot and the fact that the basic income would replace any other basic benefit, the amount would have to be equivalent to either labour market support or basic unemployment allowance.

The ministry has therefore proposed a basic monthly income of 560 euros, which would be tax-free. The Finnish Social Insurance Institute Kela would be responsible for paying out the sums.

Ministry: Full basic income not politically or financially feasible

The Ministry said that it considers a partial basic income the best alternative. A full basic income that would replace existing earnings-related benefits would not be politically or economically feasible, the ministry added.

The current proposal is being circulated for comments until September 9. It has been distributed to business and labour organisations, NGOs representing the unemployed, student associations and ministries.

The basic income pilot is one of the Sipilä administration’s spearhead projects and is scheduled for implementation in 2017 – 2018. Participants selected for the trial will be compared with a control group who will not receive the basic income.

The goal of the two-year trial is to encourage more unemployed individuals to take up available job offers. Follow-up studies will determine whether or not the programme succeeds in activating more people to accept work.

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