Moderates: Cut sick pay, limit welfare for temporary residents
To save money, a proposal from the opposition Moderate party would have Sweden consider limiting the welfare benefits available to people on temporary residence permits if they have not worked here. The proposal also calls for tightening the rules on sick pay.
In an opinion piece in the newspaper Dagens Nyheter the leader of the conservative Moderates, Anna Kinberg Batra, said Sweden should reassess what welfare benefits are offered to people on temporary residence permits, and she also suggested tightening the rules on paid time off from work due to illness.
Kinberg Batra and her co-author, the Moderate's political-economic spokesperson, Ulf Kristersson, charged that the government is underestimating economic challenges that the country will face. Both proposals could save the country money.
The two politicians want to cut back on sick benefits in two ways. The first would be by instituting another "karensdag" - a sick day without pay. Currently workers are not paid for a first day off due to illness. Kinberg Batra and Kristersson want to add another such un-paid "karensdag," which would come on the 15th day a worker is off due to illness.
They also want to re-institute a cap on the amount of time people can receive sick pay. Parliament only just voted in December to remove a two-and-a-half-year cap to that benefit, and the new law will apply from February 1, but Kinberg Batra and Kristersson believe a cap should be in place. They added that more measures might be necessary.
With respect to benefits for people who are temporarily living in the country, Kinberg Batra and Kristersson wrote, "Above all, the development of migration and establishment costs, which are expected to rise by SEK 50 billion by 2019, need to be reduced. Sweden needs to take its responsibility in the international migration crisis, but it requires setting priorities."
For example, they write that the housing offerings for young adult refugees who come to Sweden on their own, need to continue being reviewed. "Today, a large portion of them are placed in very expensive residential care homes until they're 21, several years after other young adults are expected to be able to make it on their own," they write.
Other forms of welfare need to be reviewed, the politicians insist, when it comes to people who are in Sweden on temporary residence permits. They don't believe it should be a matter of course for people who don't live permanently in the country, and who don't work in the country, to have the same access to welfare services as people who have permanent residence permits, Swedish citizens, "or people who have, through work, qualified to get into our welfare system."
Radio Sweden spoke with Ulf Kristersson about why the country should look specifically at welfare offerings for temporary residents to save money. He said he did not have concrete examples of what welfare allowances would be under review.
"The Swedish welfare state is slightly different compared to many European states. It's much more residence-based. The fact that you live in Sweden is also the fact that you are entitled to a lot of different allowances and social security schemes. And I think we have to at least discuss whether that is a sustainable way of running the country in an age of globalization and internationalization," he said.