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The Budget Bill for 2017: Building our society – taking responsibility for Sweden
The Budget Bill for 2017 presented to the Riksdag today contains the Government’s proposals to continue building our society. The Bill is based on an agreement between the government parties and the Left Party.
"Sweden's economy is strong and unemployment is falling fast, but many challenges remain. In the budget for 2017, we are taking responsibility for Sweden and implementing necessary reforms to protect welfare, get more people into work and meet the climate challenge," says Minister for Finance Magdalena Andersson.
In a world characterised by slow economic recovery, Sweden is strong. Sweden's growth rate is very high by international standards and will continue to be among the highest in our part of the world in 2017. Unemployment is declining and the employment rate is the highest in the EU. Since this Government took office, 120 000 more people have a job to go to.
"We have pursued a tight fiscal policy, and the large deficit of over SEK 60 billion that the Government inherited has essentially been wiped out. This has been achieved despite the strain on public finances following the large number of asylum seekers who came to Sweden in 2015. As a result, we will be able to implement necessary reforms to meet the challenges we face both in the long term and here and now.
More resources for welfare
Sweden must have quality welfare services we can rely on. This is why the Government has made major investments in health, education and social services. Sweden's growing population makes strengthening welfare particularly important. The Government continues to prioritise welfare services and in this bill proposes that an additional SEK 10 billion a year be made available to municipalities and county councils in general government grants. This will enable them to take a long-term approach to developing their welfare services taking local conditions into account. Together with the Government's previous welfare investments, these resources correspond to the cost of roughly 30 000 employees in welfare services.
Education is fundamental to building an equitable society and a prerequisite for our future prosperity. In addition to the welfare billions, the Government proposes initiatives to promote reading and improve the conditions for highly challenged schools. To alleviate the teacher shortage, more teachers must be trained. The Government therefore proposes an expansion of teacher and preschool teacher education programmes. When fully implemented in 2021, this will correspond to 3 600 places.
The Government is continuing its work to achieve the lowest unemployment rate in the EU by 2020. Although unemployment is falling fast and employment rates are the highest in the EU, there are still far too many people without work. To increase people's chances of finding work and improve labour market matching, the Government has launched a new adult education initiative that when fully deployed will offer around 70 000 places. The Government also proposes further steps to align labour market policy, strengthen establishment activities for new arrivals and modern public sector jobs. For many people, not having a driving licence is an obstacle to finding work. The Government therefore intends to introduce CSN loans for driving lessons during this electoral period. Investments in broadband expansion will make it easier to work and run a business in rural areas.
One of the world's first fossil-free countries
Sweden will be one of the world's first fossil-free welfare nations. The Government has taken several measures to reduce emissions, speed up the transition to a sustainable society and achieve the environmental quality objectives. This is the largest climate and environment budget in Sweden's history; SEK 12.9 billion will be invested in reforms to reduce emissions and strengthen climate action. Among other measures, the Government proposes increased support to climate investments and urban environment agreements that strengthen public transport and promote cycling. The Government is also raising its level of ambition in the climate area by buying and cancelling emissions allowances and pushing for a tougher EU policy.
A safe and secure society
Sweden should be a country in which everyone can feel safe and secure. This requires measures that enable society to stand up against crime and terrorism. For this reason, the Government proposes increased resources to the Swedish Police Authority and the Swedish Security Service.
The Government intends to reform the compensation system for the reception of unaccompanied minors and young people in order to simplify the regulatory framework, improve municipalities' planning conditions, reduce the administrative burden and increase cost effectiveness. The new compensation system should come into force on 1 July 2017. Funds will be allocated to allow for compensation to municipalities that have difficulty adapting to the new compensation system.
Gender equality in society
The overall objective of the Government's gender equality policy is equal power for women and men to shape society and their own lives. The increased resources to the local government sector will contribute to a better work environment and more staff in sectors that employ a large number of women. A higher large-family supplement and higher income threshold in the housing allowance will improve margins for many women in a precarious financial position. A special initiative is being taken to reduce men's violence against women. The Government also intends to establish a gender equality agency in 2018.