Ulla Andersson (Left party) faces Johnny Skalin (Sweden Democrats) during the budget debate

Doubts about 'full employment' budget

The title of the government's 2011 budget was 'from crisis to full employment'.

But now opposition politicians - and also unions and economic analysts - are critical of how far the budget will really go to help those out of work.

Lena Westerlund is the head economist at the LO federation of unions.

"The government has a low ambition as regards fighting unemployment. The government's own prognosis is of an unemployment level of 8 per cent next year and it will be sinking very slowly in 2012. 

With regards to the strong state of government finances it is the government's duty to do more to tackle unemployment."

She also adds that the budget suffers from a false description - that the centre-right Alliance has taken the social democratic slogan 'full employment' and is using it to mean something very different.

Meanwhile the social democrat's economy spokesman, Thomas Östros, says that the government is not doing enough to support social services.

"Last year employment in the local authorities' health and care services sank significantly, and this continues this year. And we see also that the government is not taking initiative in helping those left outside the sickness and unemployment insurance systems - and it's a shame that the government is not taking advantage of the economic upturn in order to strengthen social security."

The Left party and the greens also took the opportunity to raise the plight of those who have been hurt by changes in the social security system.

Meanwhile the spokesman for the Sweden Democrats - Jonny Skallin - said that the economy would benefit from reduced immigration, and also criticised the Alliance's employment regulation reforms.

"Social cohesion and public security have been further damaged by the reduction in how much unemployment insurance pays out to an unreasonably low level, while at the same time pensioners are being hit by costs in the form of a separate tax credit system."

And the president of the the Swedish Fiscal Policy Council, professor Lars Calmfors, says that the budget doesn't have that many measures that will actually help boost jobs.

"This is not so strange - since the government carried through major employment market reforms during its last term - and then Sweden found itself in a deep recession and then the reforms weren't that effective. But it is reasonable to expect that there will be a pretty big change now, and that these reforms should stort to work better."

But, realistically full employment is not on the horizon. The government hope to succeed in getting more people into jobs, so that by 2014 they can fight the next election with unemployment at 6 per cent, rather than 8.4 today.

The Alliance have won two elections on the back of promises to get Swedes working. With this budget they will have to show that they can deliver on these promises.

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