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Poll: Most Finnish residents opposed to universal basic income

According to a business think tank's survey, most respondents think social benefits should be based on need.

Laskin ja pieni summa rahaa.
Finland carried out a universal basic income trial from 2017 to 2018, involving 2,000 randomly-selected individuals who received tax-free monthly payments of 580 euros. Image: Emilia Malin / Yle

Three out of five Finnish residents said they do not support the country introducing a basic income model, according to a poll commissioned by think tank EVA, the Finnish Business and Policy Forum.

Just one third of some 2,000 respondents said Finland should start a universal basic income (UBI) programme for all, according to the survey.

Those opposed to UBI were more likely to have the opinion that people should have reasons for drawing social benefits, like being jobless, on a low income or studying.

Meanwhile, some 67 percent of respondents said they think that some people have been receiving benefits without truly being in need of them.

Finland's UBI trial

EVA's survey was carried out last autumn, a couple of months before the end of Finland's two-year basic income experiment, which concluded in December 2018. The think tank published a report about the survey, (roughly in English) "Farewell to Basic Income", on Monday.

During the UBI trial, the country's social insurance institution Kela selected 2,000 unemployed people at random to receive 560 euros tax-free every month. Participants were able to work alongside receiving the money, or even start their own businesses. Selected participants could, however, not opt out of the experiment.

Shortly afterwards, Finland’s government announced that the steady income appeared to increase the participants’ sense of happiness - but didn’t improve employment.

Half said benefits system update due

More than 50 percent of the EVA survey said that Finland needs to modernise and streamline its benefits system, saying that the various forms of social support - like should be combined as much as possible.

More than half of the respondents also said that benefits recipients should receive more guidance and advice.

The EVA survey was carried out by pollster Taloustutkimus, querying 2,007 residents across the country between the ages of 18-70 in late September and early October of 2018. The poll had a margin of error ranging between two to three percentage points in either direction.

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