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EXPLAINED: What’s in the Danish government’s budget proposal?

Denmark's government on Monday published a proposed budget for 2021 that dramatically scales back the heavy spending of recent years in the hope of cooling the country's overheating economy. Here's what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: What's in the Danish government's budget proposal?
Finance Minister Nicolai Wammen arrives at a press conference on the new budget proposal. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

What is the budget proposal? 

According to the Danish constitution, the annual budget is framed as a law, finansloven, or “the finance law”, which must be passed by a majority in parliament.

When combined with Denmark’s tradition of parliamentary agreements, often across the political divide, this means the budget normally contains funding for proposals and measures desired by parties outside the government. 

The process starts with the government making a “budget proposal”, before entering talks with all the other political parties during which time the budget can change quite substantially. 

The parliament normally votes through the next year’s budget in December, so there’s still a lot of time for talks. 

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What has the Danish government presented in this year’s budget proposal? 

The government intends to spend about 790 billion kroner this year, a sharp reduction from the roughly 1,222 billion it spent in 2021. 

Finance minister Nicolai Wammen said at a press conference on Monday that he was proposing “a tight and responsible budget”, intended to “lift the foot from the accelerator to ensure a long, strong recovery”. 

Denmark’s economy is expected to grow 3.8 percent this year, the highest level in 15 years, and the finance ministry in the economic analysis accompanying the budget said it now expected house prices to rise 13.1 percent this year, up from a forecast of 11.2 percent in May. 

A less expansionary budget for 2022 should act as a drag on Denmark’s growth, and hopefully go some way to tempering the rate of inflation.

What measures stand out? 

  • Covid-19 ‘war chest’. The government is adding four billion kroner to the Covid-19 ‘war chest’ set up last year to cover unforeseen expenses connected to the Covid-19 epidemic, something Wammen said was being included “in the hope that we will not need it”.
  • Housing job scheme. The government wants to return the boligjobordningen, or “housing job scheme”, to “normal levels”. The scheme gives tax breaks to those who employ cleaners, babysitters, nannies, window cleaners, gardeners, as well as for home improvements like replacing windows, insulation, installing solar cells, and painting outside walls. 
  • Labour shortages. The government will allocate 35m annually in 2022 and 2023 to fight labour shortages in Denmark, by measures to “support a better match in the labor market and strengthen the recruitment opportunities to get everyone involved”. 
  • Prison service. The government wants to set aside 240m in 2022 to improve the prison service. ‘
  • Vulnerable people. The government is setting aside 840m for initiatives aimed at helping the most vulnerable groups in society, including the homeless, the disabled, the elderly, and vulnerable children and adults.

How much can the other parties change the budget?  

The budget proposes creating a 1.2bn kroner pot of money which other political parties can draw on to fund for their own priorities, down from 1.5bn kroner ahead of the 2021 budget, and 2.1bn kroner ahead of the 2020 budget. 

The government’s support parties have said that they want this pot to be expanded, and Wammen in the press conference said that the government would consider using some of the funds earmarked for the Covid-19 war chest for other parties’ priorities. 

How have the other parties reacted so far? 

The government’s support parties, the Social Liberal, Socialist Left, and Red-Green Alliance parties, have criticised the budget for being somewhat lacklustre. 

“We are not committed opponents to what we’ve just seen but we believe it is unambitious,” said Lisbeth Bech-Nielsen, the Socialist Left party’s finance spokesperson. “We think that it lacks a welfare focus.” 

The party wants a maximum of 24 pupils per class in primary school, among other measures. 

The Social Liberal party, on the other hand, want more money for climate measures. 

“We want to do something good for the climate and take some steps towards our 70 percent goal,” the party’s finance spokesperson Andreas Steenberg said.  

Mai Villadsen, from the Red Green Alliance agreed that the government was not doing enough to reduce Denmark’s impact on the climate. 

“The government us completely overlooking the green transition with this budget bill,” she said. “Nature and the climate are in crisis. Investment in green transition is needed now – not just after climate change has swept over us.” 

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Four websites and apps for buying and selling second hand in Denmark

What's the best place to pick up vintage clothes, a coffee table or a bicycle at a bargain second-hand price online in Denmark? Here are four options.

Four websites and apps for buying and selling second hand in Denmark

With no Danish edition of eBay, there’s not a single platform which dominates the market when it comes to finding second-hand items or selling on things to a new home.

The four apps and websites listed below can all be used to buy second-hand items and list your own for sale. Some might be more suited for specific purposes or types of item than others.

Reshopper

If you’re looking for a baby jogger, jumpsuit (flyvedragt) or Peppa Pig toys, this is probably your best option. The Reshopper app includes listings by a good number of private sellers and can be sorted by location, meaning it’s often possible to find what you need locally. Some sellers offer postage and in some cases you might need to collect the item in person. If you’re lucky, the seller can drop off the item.

Prices are reasonable – I would say they are more than competitive compared to increasingly expensive charity and second-hand shops, particularly in the Copenhagen area.

Sellers can choose whether to offer shipping and have payment processed through the app, in other cases payment is arranged between the buyer and seller. A messaging function allows arrangements to be made.

There are “Mom” and “Home” sections on the app, but it’s for baby and kids’ wares that Reshopper really comes into its own.

I managed to pick up a baby jogger for 450 kroner from a private seller on the app a couple of years ago. I’ve used it frequently since and it has certainly proved worth the money, only needing a couple of new inner tubes during that time.

In addition to downloading the app, I’d recommend following Reshopper on Instagram. They have recently started opening pop-up stores where you can find great deals on clothing, toys and equipment for kids. This is not restricted to used items – you might find new products that have been discarded because they are from previous seasons or have been returned to manufacturers.

Den Blå Avis (DBA)

The legacy option for buying second-hand, DBA started life as a classified ads paper many years ago and can now be browsed as an app or website.

You can find anything on DBA, from sofas to PC components to cars. I bought my car through an ad on the site and, like my baby jogger, I’m happy to say it’s been one of my better purchases and is still going strong two years down the line.

DBA is probably the closest equivalent Denmark has to eBay but should be used with caution because it doesn’t offer the same level of protection to buyers. Many sales still involve transferring money directly to sellers (often using the MobilePay payment app) and trusting them to ship the item. This might go well most of the time but there are scammers out there.

One way to protect yourself is to make sure you only buy from sellers who have verified themselves using Denmark’s MitID digital ID system, a function DBA introduced in recent years.

Unlike eBay, you don’t enter auctions for items on DBA but you can send messages to sellers whose items interest you.

Facebook Marketplace

If you’re on Facebook, you’ve probably come across the Marketplace platform. Now popular in many countries including Denmark, Marketplace has challenged and arguably overtaken DBA as the spot most people sell their unwanted items.

Because it’s populated with sellers keen to shift their goods – and possibly less concerned about the price they receive for them – it can be a good place to pick up a bargain. This is something which is harder to come by than it used to be in physical second-hand stores.

Marketplace can be found on the Facebook app or via this link.

Trendsales

As the name suggests, Trendsales is a clothing-focused platform and is in fact the largest Danish marketplace for used clothing as well as lifestyle items.

You’ll find all sorts of clothing there – it’s not limited to designer or fashion items, so you should be able to pick up a comfortable hoodie from H&M or look for a vintage t-shirt and be in luck.

The interface is easy on the eye and user-friendly, and the prices often surprisingly reasonable. Sellers can choose delivery options and may or may not accept in-person collection.

READ ALSO: How to save money as a student in Denmark

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