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Small town in Finland boosts baby bonus to €4k

The money will not be handed over in a lump sum but will be paid out over a period of eight years.

Vauvan vaippaa vaihdetaan.
The town is already seeing its birth rate rise. Image: AOP

The small 6,000-odd-resident town of Virrat in the Pirkanmaa region has said that it will pay a bonus of 4,000 euros for each new baby born.

Parents will be eligible for the perk if their babies are registered as residents when they are born. If this is the case, they can apply for the funds after the child’s birth.

The local birth rate has been rising in recent years and the town expects to welcome between 35 and 40 newborns this year.

"They are all entitled to the baby money that we are using to remind people of the exceptional opportunity to enjoy life here in Virrat," mayor Juha Viitasaari said.

Virrat is not the only town in Finland to offer a baby bonus to attract more future taxpayers, but is one of the few to offer such a substantial incentive.

Central Ostrobothnia’s tiny Lestijärvi with a population of just over 700 has claimed the title of providing the biggest bonus at 10,000 euros, which it has offered since 2012. Parents receive 1,000 euros per year for 10 years under the scheme and so far more than 60 children have received the funds.

Mehikkälä in southeast Finland and Luhanka in central Finland, also have similar programmes, while Simo in northern Finland offers a 5,000-euro sweetener for families to settle and raise children there.

Last year an Yle analysis found that dozens of towns and municipalities offer small baby bonuses and gifts valued at between 300 and 500 euros.

Virrat adding other incentives

Babies born in Virrat will receive their financial gifts over a period of eight years, with the first sum of 500 euros paid soon after birth. The programme will apply to infants born from 2020 onwards.

Some babies born earlier this year received only 400 euros at birth on the basis of a previous scheme that existed before the new bonus was introduced. However city officials said they will receive an extra 100 euros to bring them on par with others.

The taxman will get his share of the bonus as it is taxable income. The support is part of the city’s "vitality package" that also includes free housing for students as well as an annual stipend of 400 euros for tertiary education students.

The city is also investing in attracting young adults and families with children by building a daycare and comprehensive school out of logs -- the town’s largest investment. Funds will also be spent on building outdoor leisure facilities with a separate skateboard park, cycle track, frisbee golf course, street basketball court and a parkour track.

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