Government supplements the provisions transferring social assistance to Kela
The Government will propose specifications to the application and official processes concerning social assistance when the shared competence between the municipalities and the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela) takes effect. The proposal would supplement the legislation, adopted in summer 2015, that will transfer the granting and payment of basic social assistance to Kela at the start of 2017. Supplementary and preventive social assistance would continue to be granted by the municipality. The proposed amendments will not affect the criteria for granting social assistance or the structure of the benefit.
The proposal clarifies the division of duties between Kela and the municipality regarding social assistance applications and the transfer of applications from Kela to the municipality. The provisions on access to information would apply to Kela in the same way as they currently apply to the municipality.
According to the proposal, the municipality could also grant social assistance to ensure urgent and absolutely necessary support in cases of emergency without prior assessment and decision by Kela concerning the client’s eligibility for social assistance. The aim is to ensure that clients can get help in cases of emergency even outside Kela’s opening hours. This would alleviate clients’ situation in acute crises and introduce flexibility to the system.
The proposal also specifies that the transitional provisions apply to different kinds of problem situations during the transitional period. Provisions on electronic reimbursement procedures between Kela and the pharmacies are also included in the proposal. Another new amendment included in the proposal is the electronic transfer of housing information directly from landlords to Kela.
The proposal would revise six different acts: the act amending the Act on Social Assistance, the Act on Social Assistance, the Act on Rehabilitative Work, the Act on the Promotion of Immigrant Integration, the Child Welfare Act, and the Act on the Treatment of Aliens and Detention Units. The reference to social assistance being granted by the reception centre is proposed to be removed from the Act on the Treatment of Aliens and Detention Unit. Kela would also become an authority with the duty of notification under the Child Welfare Act. The amendments would enter into force on 1 January 2017.
Kela advices and guides, municipal social work gains importance
According to the proposal, the client would be able to use the same application to apply for basic social assistance from Kela and for supplementary or preventive social assistance from the municipality. However, Kela would be obligated to transfer a client’s social assistance application to the municipality only when the client specifically requests a transfer. Another condition would be that the application concerns other than the basic amount of social assistance or other expenses considered necessary. Otherwise the client would have to address the application for supplementary or preventive social assistance directly to the municipality. The amendment highlights the client’s right to self-determination. It would also reduce the number of applications Kela would have to transfer to the municipalities.
The transfer of social assistance to Kela aims to improve flexibility, efficiency and cooperation between Kela and the municipalities. Kela will have a stronger responsibility to advice and guide clients and to identify their need for social services.The reform will highlight the significance of municipal social work.
Susanna Rahkonen, Senior Officer, Legal Affairs, tel. +358 295 63215