Calls to change benefit scheme's entry criteria

A Moderate Party proposal to make it possible for more people to enter the unemployment insurance scheme was welcomed by several parties on Wednesday. But the trade unions are sceptical, Swedish Radio News reports.

Moderate party MP, Tomas Tobé, who chairs the parliamentary committee on the labour market wants the entry criteria to the scheme to be defined not just on the number of hours one has worked, but also the amount of money one has earned. In this way, he believes the scheme will become more attractive to people working part time and on odd hours.

According to Swedish Radio News, the other parties in the centre-right alliance are positive to the proposal, and the Greens say they see this as a first step in the right direction. However, the central trade union organisation, LO, fears it will lead to new injustices, as it becomes easier for high-earners to qualify for the insurance than it is for those on lower incomes.

Since the centre-right alliance came to power in 2006, the number of people who have access to the unemployment benefit scheme has plummeted, due to higher membership fees and stricter rules. Back then seven out of ten unemployed used to get benefits from the scheme. Today it is only four out of ten.

All parties in parliament agree this is a problem, and a parliamentary committee is looking into how it can be addressed.