Finland continuing with basic income experiment

Finland has said the Nordic country's trailblazing basic income experiment is going ahead as planned.

The confirmation comes after media reports that the trial has fallen flat.

Government social affairs official Miska Simanainen said the trial, in which about 2,000 unemployed people aged 25 to 58 are paid a tax-free €560 monthly income with no questions asked, "is proceeding as planned" with "no changes in direction".

Finland became the first country in Europe to start such an income experiment on a national level in January 2017.

The €20 million programme, which seeks to reform Finland's social security system, ends in December, and prime minister Juha Sipila's centre-right government will assess initial results after that.

Continuation of the unique trial may well become a political hot potato ahead of the April 2019 election.

"It's up to the new government to decide whether to experiment further with basic income," Mr Simanainen said, adding that several government and opposition parties support the basic income trial.

Mr Simanainen said recent media reports that the government social affairs agency has requested up to €70 million in extra funding this year are false.

He says the agency is happy with the plan, though it originally sought to have up to 10,000 citizens taking part, including those who are employed.

It has not requested further government funds in 2017 or this year.

The head of the social affairs ministry, Liisa Siika-aho, said that at least some €50 million is required should officials decide to expand the trial to include other low-income groups such as freelancers, small-scale entrepreneurs and part-time workers.

In a statement today, the agency said the purpose of the experiment was to "study the effect of increasing cash incentives for work and simplifying the social security system on the employment rate of the study participants".

In addition, cutting red tape for job seekers is a major government goal.

The plan was initially agreed in 2016 by the three-party coalition government led by Mr Sipila's Centre Party.

PA


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