How Much Should Welfare Cost?
The Welfare Society is built on the principle that everyone should contribute to the welfare of everyone. This includes social insurance, benefits to individuals at different times of life (like child subsidies) or in difficult situations (such as illness).
Family policies (such as child allowances and parental leaves) cost around 9 billion dollars a year. Sick leave costs 17 billion dollars a year. All of the parties support the welfare model, but the opposition Alliance wants to make it less expensive.
The government and its allies (Left and Green parties) have raised the ceiling for both parental leave and sick leave from July 1. They’ve also introduced a new benefit for parents who don’t live with their children. But on other points the three parties disagree:
The Greens want to extend parental leave from 13 months to 18, with one-third allocated to each parent (to encourage fathers to use the benefit more than at present).
The Left goes even farther and wants to mandate a 50-50 division of the parental leave. (Both the Greens and Left want both parents to be home during the child’s first month.)
The Social Democrats want to keep the current system, with 2 months mandated to each parent.
The Left wants to remove the current zero compensation on the first day of sick leave.
The Social Democrats and the Left want to raise the ceiling for unemployment compensation. The Greens do not.
The Alliance has no common position on social insurance. But all four parties are against raising the ceiling on sick leave.
In August the Alliance also reached agreement on several important issues concerning family policies. They want to introduce a municipal benefit of 4000 kronor a month for parents who stay home with pre-school aged children, rather than sending them to public daycare.
Sick leave: The Conservative Moderates, Christian Democrats, and Center want the second day of each illness to also be without compensation, and lower compensation for the other days. The Liberals want to lower the ceiling in 2007 and raise it again in 2008, and are against introducing a second day without compensation.
Parental leave: The Conservative Moderates have accepted keeping the current 13 month leave, the obligatory months for fathers, and the 80 percent of salary benefit level. The party still wants to reduce taxes for the parent who earns least.
The Liberals want to raise the benefit to 90 percent for as much of the period as both parents use equally. The Center wants a higher ceiling, and the Christian Democrats want to raise the minimum benefit.
Children: The Liberals want a “Child Account” of around 5000 dollars a year, The Liberals and Center want childcare vouchers, the Christian Democrats want municipal childcare benefits (which housewives collect for staying home with their children instead of working and sending them to daycare), and another kind of benefit called “children’s days” paid out after parental leave ends.
The Alliance has reached agreement on:
- Participation in union unemployment compensation schemes shall be obligatory and more expensive, conditions for collecting shall be more restrictive, and compensation will be reduced after nine months
- Employers shall have the right to demand a doctor’s certificate from the first day of sickness
- Early retirement compensation will be reduced
- Care after a traffic accident will not be paid for by the regular sickness insurance, but from private traffic insurance