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MPs split on tapering of unemployment benefit

An Yle poll finds legislators are divided on whether to gradually reduce jobless benefit to encourage people to take jobs.

Henkilö menossa työvoimatoimistoon
Unemployment offices in Finland will be less busy if the government hits its targets. Image: Mikko Stig / Lehtikuva

Any plan to reduce unemployment benefits the longer a claimant has been out of work would face opposition among MPs from the government parties the Left Alliance and the Social Democrats, according to an Yle survey.

Yle asked 124 of Finland's 200 MPs their opinions on the idea. Overall 54 MPs said they supported the plan, 46 were opposed and 24 declined to answer.

Legislators on the right of the political spectrum, especially those from the conservative National Coalition Party and the right wing of the Finns Party, were more positive about the plan.

At present unemployed people with insurance receive 500 days of benefits linked to their income when in work, which provides a higher level of support than the basic unemployment benefit.

Tapering off this higher level of support would, advocates suggest, improve employment rates.

"Just before the end of [a claimant’s spell on] income-linked benefits, there is a peak in people returning to employment, which indicates that the incentives to get a job when on income-linked benefits are weakest at the start," said Finns Party MP Riikka Purra.

The government has pledged to raise the employment rate to 75 percent. In pursuit of the goal the government has announced a reform of employment-support payments to finance new jobs, but has shied away from measures to prompt unemployed people to seek work.

"The majority of people on income-linked benefits get jobs in under six months," said SDP MP Tarja Filatov. "This solution would reduce incentives to get work quickly."

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