New sickness benefit rules merely "cosmetic"

3:28 min

The Swedish centre-right government's recent change to its' own reform to the sickness benefit system is once again under the media microscope.

The opposition Social Democrat Party is claiming the new rules put in place on January 1st are merely "cosmetic" and the original reform in 2008 to try and cut down on the reported large numbers of people off long term sick remains "unfair" with some long-term unemployed losing their sickness benefits completely.

Swedish National Radio reports that only 14 people have been able to keep their benefits so far because of the new rules. Radio Sweden spoke to Svante Borg, the Insurance director at the Social Insurance Agency, who defended the changes as a success in getting people back to work.

"In 2003 we had one of the highest levels of long term sick in europe now we have the same level as all other countries. It has been a fantastic journey because these people really want to be in a system where they can be helped back to work," Svante Borg said.