Danish government to increase spending on low-income families

A political agreement between the governing Social Democrats and allied parties has secured financial support for Denmark’s lowest-income families.

Danish government to increase spending on low-income families
File photo: Ólafur Steinar Gestsson/Ritzau Scanpix

A temporary measure will divert 250 million kroner of spending to families encompassed by the reduced form of welfare for recently-arrived foreign nationals including refugees (integrationsydelsen); and to those for whom an upper limit on the amount a household can receive in social welfare applies (kontanthjælpsloftet).

Around 27,900 children are expected to benefit from the new subsidy, Ritzau reports.

Employment minister Peter Hummelgaard confirmed the government initiative.

“We have seen the stories piling up about families not being able to afford children’s winter clothing or leisure activities or about children going to school without any lunch at the end of the month,” Hummelgaard said.

“This is what we want to take action on and thereby live up to promises made when the government support paper [between Social Democrats and support parties, ed.] was signed,” he added.

The Social Liberals, Socialist People’s Party and Red Green Alliance have all agreed to the spending, which will enable it to pass parliament.

All three of those parties want to scrap the two measures restricting welfare payments for certain families.

The new subsidy will apply until a government commission submits recommendations on how to reform the two types of restriction. That is expected no later than summer 2020.

READ ALSO: Frederiksen becomes PM after left-wing parties reach deal

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EU vote could play havoc with Danish rules on unemployment benefits

A vote taken by the European Union’s parliament on Tuesday may have consequences for Denmark’s social welfare model.

EU vote could play havoc with Danish rules on unemployment benefits
File photo: AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias/Ritzau Scanpix

A narrow majority in the EU parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday voted in favour of a mandate for negotiation of social security systems. That means negotiations over new rules between the EU commission and parliament and member states can commence, Ritzau reports.

The proposal could give EU citizens the right to Denmark’s unemployment insurance fund, dagpenge, after a single day’s employment in the Scandinavian country, according to the report.

Danish MEPs had sought to reopen negotiations over the mandate to prevent this eventuality, but appear to have failed after Tuesday’s vote.

Social Democrat MEP Christel Schaldemose called the vote result a “potential bomb under the Danish unemployment benefits system”.

“I am disappointed that it has been so difficult to make our colleagues understand that this potentially undermines our system. I’m very, very disheartened right now,” Schaldemose said.

The Liberal party’s MEP Morten Løkkegaard also said he was concerned.

“We must prepare for the worst possible scenario. And that is a serious scenario which gravely threatens the Danish way of doing things,” he said.

“We must consider activating article 48, which means that we as a state can intervene to delay things. The funding of our welfare system could be seriously damaged by this,” Løkkegaard continued.

The aim of the proposal is to promote free movement of labour within the EU by guaranteeing the rights of workers in situations in which more than one country’s regulations apply, Ritzau writes.

The proposal in its current form is not yet guaranteed to make it into legislation, however.

345 MEPs voted in favour of the negotiation mandate and 287 voted against. The relatively slim majority leaves room for a potential ultimate rejection of the change, according to Løkkegaard.

READ ALSO: Denmark to keep unemployment insurance money paid by people who lose eligibility under new rules