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Ministry of Employment initiatives in the Budget Bill for 2017
In the autumn budget, the Government is investing in an active labour market policy for increased employment, strengthened skills supply in elderly care in particular, and improved unemployment insurance for part-time unemployed people. The Government is also intensifying efforts to better enable new arrivals to quickly become established in working and community life. More investments will be made in early measures for asylum seekers and increased resources for the introduction system. The Government also intends to introduce a new compensation system for the reception of unaccompanied minors and young people. The Budget Bill for 2017 is based on an agreement between the Government and the Left Party.
Responsible and sustainable reception
The number of people who sought asylum in the EU and Sweden in 2015 exceeded all forecasts. According to the OECD, the number of asylum seekers per capita in Sweden in 2015 was the highest ever recorded in an OECD country. The unique situation Sweden is currently experiencing presents a number of challenges, but also great opportunities. The reception of newly arrived people is a shared responsibility for the whole of Sweden. Building our society requires Sweden to stand together. Effective reception at municipal level is also crucial for the establishment of new arrivals.
Increased funds to municipalities
To strengthen welfare in municipalities and county councils the Government is allocating SEK 10 billion from 2017 onwards. This reinforcement will initially be of particular support to the municipalities and county councils with the greatest investment needs as a result of the large number of asylum seekers and new arrivals. To facilitate the settlement and establishment of new arrivals with special needs, the Government also proposes increasing the level of compensation to municipalities in 2017–2020 for related costs. Since municipalities' reception is expected to be at its highest in 2017, it is proposed that the level of compensation be increased most for 2017 and gradually adjusted as reception decreases. This proposal entails increasing the appropriation by SEK 80 million in 2017, SEK 50 million in 2018 and SEK 30 million in 2019 and 2020.
New compensation system for the reception of unaccompanied minors
Quality and security must be ensured in the reception of unaccompanied minors and young people. The current compensation system for municipalities is complicated, creates a great administrative burden and is cost-ineffective. The Government therefore intends to introduce a new compensation system on 1 July 2017 to simplify the regulatory framework, improve municipalities' planning conditions, reduce the administrative burden and increase cost-effectiveness. Under the new system, compensation is largely based on flat rates. In addition, the Government proposes that SEK 40 million be allocated per year in 2017 and 2018 to facilitate the transition for municipalities.
Support to municipalities to make it easier to let private dwellings
County administrative boards are tasked with ensuring increased preparedness and reception capacity in the municipalities, and enhanced collaboration. In the spring amending budget for 2016, the Government allocated a further SEK 10 million to create conditions for good housing provision in the municipalities through measures to arrange housing or in some other way make the letting of private homes easier. In the autumn budget, the Government proposes that this investment should be continued and increased to SEK 20 million per year in 2017 and 2018.
Migration Agency takes over instructions on settlement
The Act on the reception of certain newly arrived immigrants for settlement came into force on 1 March 2016. The aim is a more even distribution of new arrivals among municipalities, and that municipalities well placed to enable the establishment of new arrivals take in more new arrivals than they have to date. In 2016 the Public Employment Service and the Migration Agency share responsibility for instructions under the new law. As of 1 January 2017, the Migration Agency will be responsible for decisions concerning all instructions. For this reason, it is proposed that SEK 50 million in 2017 and SEK 30 million as of 2018 be moved from the Public Employment Service's administrative appropriation to the Migration Agency's administrative appropriation. The county administrative boards also play an important role in implementing the new Act on the reception of certain newly arrived immigrants for settlement. For example, they are responsible for conducting dialogues with the municipalities and deciding on municipal figures. The Government therefore proposes a permanent increase of SEK 10 million per year in the county administrative boards' funding beginning in 2017.
Active labour market policy and improved integration
The Government's objective is that Sweden will have the lowest unemployment rate in the EU by 2020. The Swedish model requires that everyone who is able to work should work. This is why an active labour market policy is an important part of the Government's jobs agenda. Swedish labour market performance is strong, employment is rising and unemployment is falling. Meanwhile, in several Swedish industries, labour shortages are considerable. It is important that labour market policy makes it easier for employers to find suitable people, helping jobs to be filled more quickly. There is also a great need to make it easier for new arrivals to more quickly become established in the labour market. Labour market policy is important to achieve this. The proportion of new arrivals leaving the introduction system to take up work or study must increase.
Increased quality and strengthened skills supply in elderly care
After dialogues with the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions and the Swedish Municipal Workers' Union, the Government proposes a training initiative for health and elderly care workers on fixed-term contracts. This training initiative will provide important skills development and, along with 'extra jobs' and trainee jobs, improve skills supply in health and elderly care and improve the prospects of workers on fixed-term contracts gaining a permanent foothold in the labour market. This initiative also aims to increase quality in, above all, elderly care. The training initiative is directed towards people currently employed in health and elderly care on fixed-term contracts who become assistant nurses by undertaking training. The Government intends for this initiative to enter into force as soon as possible.
'Extra jobs' strengthened
To enable more long-term unemployed people to return to work, the Government also intends to make changes to 'extra jobs' to increase the level of support and enable subsidies equal to 100 per cent of a full-time job instead of the current 75 per cent. The Government also proposes an increase in mentor support for the first three months. The aim of these changes is to improve opportunities for people who have been unemployed for a long time to find a job. The Government also intends to broaden the 'extra jobs' target group to include newly arrived people. To a certain extent, the current 'extra jobs' and trainee jobs regulations have been restrictive. The Government will therefore review these regulations with a view to widening the opportunities for these jobs in more areas in accordance with the EU state aid rules.
Increased resources for a quality introduction system
The number of participants in the introduction system is expected to rise sharply over the next few years, posing a major challenge for the Public Employment Service. The proportion leaving to take up work or study was higher in 2015 than in the previous year, but is still at far too low a level. It is important to enable the Employment Service to intensify introduction activities so that more people can move on to work or education. To ensure the quality of the measures and improve the possibility of providing greater support based on individual needs, the Government proposes increasing the Public Employment Service's administrative appropriation by SEK 520 million in 2017, SEK 570 million in 2018, SEK 700 million in 2019 and SEK 600 million in 2020. Also, an extra SEK 130 million will be provided in the autumn amending budget.
Skills assessment during the asylum application period continues
The Government proposes that the Public Employment Service receive SEK 90 million in 2017 and SEK 55 million per year as of 2018 to be able to offer assessment of asylum seekers' educational background and work experience during the asylum application period. The proposal is essential to enable people to become established more quickly and means that the investment in the Employment Service's skills assessment decided in connection with the spring amending budget for 2016 will continue.
Strengthening of early measures for asylum seekers
Early measures during the asylum application period aim to improve and speed up establishment in society and working life. It is important to take advantage of the individual's asylum application period and use it in a meaningful way, for example, to shorten the establishment period for those who are granted a residence permit. The Government proposes reinforcing the funding for early measures to help asylum seekers learn Swedish and acquire knowledge about Swedish society, and other measures to promote establishment. Funds will be allocated for early measures via civil society amounting to SEK 135 million in 2017, SEK 110 million in 2018, SEK 100 million in 2019 and SEK 30 million in 2020. These funds will be allocated to the county administrative boards. Funds will also be allocated for language initiatives through liberal adult education amounting to SEK 135 million in 2017, SEK 120 million in 2018, SEK 106 million in 2019 and SEK 41 million in 2020 (expenditure area 17, Culture, media, religious communities and leisure activities).
County administrative boards responsible for coordinating early measures
A coordinator is needed to ensure that the resources allocated to various types of measures for asylum seekers are used as intended, lead to activities with considerable geographical spread and reach as large a proportion of the target group as possible. The Government has therefore previously announced that as of 2017 the county administrative boards will be tasked with coordinating and organising early measures for asylum seekers. In light of this new responsibility, the county administrative boards' administrative appropriation will be increased by SEK 72 million per year as of 2017. It also means that the Swedish Migration Agency will no longer be responsible for measures to improve asylum seekers' knowledge of Swedish and other measures to prepare for this establishment. For this reason, the Migration Agency's administrative appropriation will be reduced by an equivalent amount.
Delegation's mandate extended to promote collaboration for new arrivals
The delegation on putting young people to work is tasked with promoting constructive and flexible collaboration between the Swedish Public Employment Service and municipalities to reduce youth unemployment. It has been working on local agreements between the Public Employment Service and municipalities as tools for collaboration. The experience gained from this should now be used to strengthen the impact of local labour market measures for new arrivals. The delegation will therefore receive an expanded mandate to promote collaboration between stakeholders who are important for labour market entry for new arrivals, and in particular young new arrivals. Moreover, it is proposed that SEK 30 million per year be allocated in 2017 and 2018 for promotion activities similar to the resources currently available for collaborative youth projects.
Increased promotion funds for fast tracks
In 2015 and 2016, the Public Employment Service has coordinated the fast tracks that the social partners and government agencies have jointly initiated. Fast tracks are directed at new arrivals who have educational qualifications or professional experience in a shortage occupation for which the social partners have agreed on a fast track. In August, thirteen fast tracks for some twenty occupations were in place. For 2016, the Public Employment Service had been allocated funds for special promotion and development measures aimed at speeding up new arrivals' establishment in the labour market. The Government proposes an additional SEK 25 million per year in 2017–2018 for this purpose.
Simpler regulations for the introduction system
The Government believes it is crucial to create better conditions for the Public Employment Service to work more efficiently on the introduction system. The Government intends to present proposals for simplifying and streamlining the introduction system. The purpose is to make regulations concerning the introduction more like the labour market policy regulatory framework in general. This is expected to have a positive impact on the number of people who leave the introduction system to take up work or study. To enable the Public Employment Service to adapt its activities to an amended regulatory framework, it is proposed that the agency receive an additional SEK 10 million in 2017.
More effective new start jobs with conditions in line with collective agreements
New start jobs have become the most common form of subsidised employment in terms of participant numbers. However, there is a certain risk that the transition to work is subsidised more than is justified from a labour market policy perspective. To make new start jobs more targeted and efficient, the Government intends to reduce the subsidy for people who have been unemployed for less than two years and to shorten the maximum support periods. The Government also intends to increase the new start job subsidy for people who have been unemployed for more than three years and for new arrivals to strengthen their chances of entering and becoming established in the labour market.
In 2017, the Government will set requirements for employment conditions that follow from, or are equal to, collective agreements for new start jobs too. The purpose of this amendment is to ensure equally good terms of employment for all those employed with wage subsidies. The proposed amendments are expected to reduce the 'deadweight' and resources can be redirected towards measures for people who are furthest from the labour market.
Modern temporary jobs in the public sector
Unemployment is high among people with a short education and relatively few qualifications. Although education and training is to be the main measure, jobs that have lower qualification requirements and offer good working conditions and collectively agreed wages can be a way in to the labour market for some people. Government agencies are to offer jobs with lower qualification requirements to enable more people with a weak attachment to the labour market to gain work experience and receive a salary. Modern temporary jobs in the public sector will therefore be introduced gradually from 2017 and will employ at least 5 000 people by 2020.
Better unemployment insurance
People who become unemployed must not be made to suffer immediate financial stress. The individual is to be given good opportunities to actively seek and find a new job, preferably equivalent to their skills and qualifications. The security provided by a functioning unemployment insurance system is crucial if people are to dare to change jobs. The Government therefore intends to amend the rules for part-time employment during a period of unemployment benefit so that people can be part-time unemployed and receive benefit for a maximum of 60 weeks. The current provision states that a jobseeker can have only 75 benefit days alongside part-time work. In principle, the restriction on part-time work means that a person working very few hours a week uses up their part-time days much more quickly than someone working part-time but for more hours a week. The Government considers that it is not reasonable for a person trying to re-enter the labour market to feel obliged to turn down a job – to the extent that is happening today – to be sure of making ends meet. This change will occur through a legislative amendment in 2017.
The Government will also shortly be presenting proposals that clarify elected representatives' right to compensation, how the coordination of pensions and unemployment benefit is to be designed to be as balanced and proportionate as possible, administrative simplifications for unemployment insurance funds and amendments to the age limit for entitlement to membership of an unemployment insurance fund. An inquiry is also under way at the Government Offices to look into how more people can be covered by unemployment insurance.
Higher ceiling for wage subsidies
Wage subsidies are an important tool for putting to good use the skills and capacity of people with disabilities. The previous government did not submit any proposals for a revision. The Government is now raising the ceiling for wage subsidies for the first time since 2007. This is to strengthen the conditions for increased employment and improved labour market participation for people with disabilities that entail reduced work capacity.
Employers can currently receive a subsidy for part of the salary if they employ people with disabilities that entail reduced work capacity. This subsidy can at most be calculated on the basis of a gross salary of up to SEK 16 700 per month. The Government's proposals in the autumn budget entail raising the ceiling for the salary on which compensation is calculated from SEK 16 700 to SEK 17 100 from 2017. This will provide employers with increased compensation if they employ people with reduced work capacity, meaning an improvement in conditions for employers to take on staff. This investment is expected to amount to SEK 160 million in 2017, SEK 280 million in 2018, SEK 380 million in 2019 and SEK 390 million in 2020.
Review of subsidised wages
The Government has previously stated that it would review subsidised wages for people with disabilities that entail reduced work capacity. The starting point for this work is that we should make better use and support the development of individuals' work capacity and skills. The Government intends to make further amendments to subsidised wages in 2017 to clarify the direction and relationships between the various forms of wage subsidies and to make the subsidies more fit-for-purpose.
A more detailed description of the direction of this work was previously presented in the Ministry Communication on clarification of subsidised wages for people with disabilities that entail reduced work capacity (Ds 2016:14). The Government previously set aside funds to be used from 2017 because of amendments to subsidised wages, including funds for information measures and reinforcement of the Public Employment Service's work on subsidised wages.
Increased resources for development employment at Samhall
To further improve the conditions for unemployed people with disabilities that entail reduced work capacity to find a job, and to test and develop their work capacity within the framework of a paid employment, the Government will provide additional resources for more development employment positions at Samhall AB. The proposal is expected to result in an additional 100 positions in 2017 and 500 positions per year in the period 2018–2020. This investment is estimated to amount to SEK 24 million in 2017 and SEK 118 million per year in 2018–2020.
Increased incentives for young people aged 20–24 to complete upper secondary education
Young people who have not completed upper secondary education and are in a labour market programme before the age of 20 receive SEK 48 per day in development allowance. On 1 July in the year in which a young person turns 20, the allowance increases to SEK 141 per day; in other words, the young person receives development allowance at the same level as young people who have completed upper secondary education. To increase incentives for young people who have not completed upper secondary education to return to their studies, young people without upper secondary education should be able to retain the lower level of development allowance even after 1 July in the year in which they turn 20, which means a decrease in the allowance compared to the current level.
Sustainable working life
The Government's policy is to contribute to a work environment that prevents ill health, accidents and unsound competition. To achieve these goals, the Government previously presented a new work environment strategy for modern working life and a zero vision for fatal accidents, and proposed a significant increase in resources in labour market policy – SEK 100 million per year during the electoral period.
Additional funds to the Swedish Work Environment Authority for more inspectors
During 2006–2014, the number of work environment inspectors fell considerably. The Government's additional resources to the Swedish Work Environment Authority have meant that the trend has now reversed as the agency has been able to recruit some fifty new inspectors. To further increase attendance in workplaces, the Government proposes that the Swedish Work Environment Authority now be allocated an additional SEK 25 million per year as of 2017, which is the equivalent of approximately 25 inspectors. The Swedish Work Environment Authority now being able to strengthen its supervisory activities will be an important tool in creating decent work in the Swedish labour market.
Budget Bill for 2017
On 20 September the Government submitted its proposal for the central government budget to the Riksdag.