Government split on unemployment benefit hike

4:04 min

Despite Sweden’s finance minister vowing not to raise the ceiling on unemployment benefits, other members of the coalition government are calling to do just that.

In an interview on Swedish Radio News Saturday Finance Minister Anders Borg, a member of the conservative Moderate Party, rejected the suggestion that the ceiling, which was lowered six years ago and has not been increased since, ought to be adjusted upwards. He claimed improving the benefit would cost 30,000 jobs and said he would only consider changing it if the number of unemployed dropped by one or two percentage points.

Now at least two other members of the coalition are criticising the finance minister. Solveig Zander, Center Party member of parliament’s Social Insurance Committee, tells Swedish Radio News:

“I don’t agree with him, absolutely not. I think it is important to raise the unemployment compensation so people will feel like they have a basic security. Otherwise they will never dare to change and take another job if there is a risk they will be fired first. We need people who change jobs if young people are to enter the labor market.”

Johan Pehrson, the spokesperson on economic issues for the Liberals disagrees with the finance minister’s claim that increasing the benefit would cost 30,000 jobs, if at the same time, Pehrson says, the hiring and firing rules were softened:

“We don’t believe that would happen; we think that if you combine it this way, there will be more jobs.”