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Minister: No-strings-attached basic income in Finland "unrealistic"

The Social Affairs Minister said Finland must first decide whether the cash benefit would apply to everyone.

Aino-Kaisa Pekonen
Minister of Social Affairs and Health Aino-Kaisa Pekonen. Image: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva

Minister of Social Affairs and Health Aino-Kaisa Pekonen told local news conglomerate Uutissuomalainen on Saturday that a no-strings-attached basic income model would not be a part of the government's social welfare overhaul.

Pekonen said that while her party, the Left Alliance, supports basic income for citizens regardless of their means, it is unrealistic that the scheme will be pushed through during one government term, especially with regard to the current economic situation.

When MPs return from their summer break in early September they will revive discussions on revamping Finland’s social safety net, which will include deciding whether a possible basic income model would be means-tested to alleviate financial burdens or designed as a cash benefit given to everyone, no strings attached.

"It’s an enormous question that divides a lot of parties. The current administration isn't even unanimous on universal basic income," Pekonen told Uutissuomalainen.

Initial findings from Finland's two-year basic income experiment that concluded at the end of 2018 found that giving 2,000 unemployed people 560 euros tax-free every month did not increase participants’ employment, but recipients did report higher perceived wellbeing than that of those in the control group.

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