Five new Flash Reports prepared by the European Social Policy Network (ESPN) are now available and provide information on recent social policy developments in Finland, Greece, Lithuania, Slovenia and Sweden.
- To encourage activation of the unemployed, shorten unemployment duration and increase the employment rate, the Finnish “Activation Model” has increased conditionality for basic unemployment benefits and income-related schemes. Reactions to the scheme, which became effective on 1 January 2018, have been highly mixed and solid evidence of the consequences is currently lacking. Further decisions on changes to the model will most likely be postponed until after the elections (April 2019). Social Democrats and the Left-Wing League have already promised to abolish it if they win the next elections.
- In 2018, the Greek government launched several initiatives to strengthen the social protection for children, especially for those from vulnerable groups. Although these measures are steps in the right direction they remain partial and are not underpinned by a comprehensive approach to tackling child poverty and social exclusion, and promoting child well-being.
- In Lithuania, a considerable share of parents were not eligible for personal income tax allowances due to their low income. To address this issue, the Government decided to replace the child tax allowance from January 2018 with a universal child benefit. In January 2019, the benefit was increased from €30 to €50 per month.
- In Slovenia, the fiscal consolidation measures introduced in 2012 included lower family benefits, lower income ceilings for entitlement, and lower paternity/parental leave salary compensation. Low-income families were exempt. Family benefits were not adjusted to inflation. Most of the negative impact was borne by individuals and families on a medium (but, in absolute terms, barely sufficient) income. These austerity measures were finally abandoned on 1 January 2019.
- After more than four months of deadlock following the elections in Sweden, a government was finally formed in January 2019. The basis for the government is a four-party agreement paper, listing 73 policy items to be implemented. Many of these run counter to earlier Social Democrat policy.