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The Council of Europe's Committee of Social Rights announces its decision regarding minimum social security provision in Finland

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
11.2.2015 10.47
Press release

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and Ministry for Foreign Affairs Press Release

Working under the remit of the Council of Europe, the European Committee of Social Rights has determined that the minimum level of social security provisions is not high enough in Finland.

The Committee has examined the individual benefits such as sick pay or labour market support in relation to the average income of a nation; in this case, Finland. It is on this basis that the Committee has issued its decision regarding the inadequacy of the minimum level of social security benefits in Finland. In contrast, Finland has deemed its minimum provision to be adequate, owing to the coherent support package formed by Finnish social security benefits, social- and healthcare services, and the payment caps placed on various kinds of healthcare services. Furthermore, in its decision the Committee examined Finnish income support allowance solely on the basis of the basic contribution element and did not consider the other elements paid, almost without exception, as part of income support allowance.

Examining the level of a specific benefit is not a reasonable means of assessing its adequacy, especially as social security in Finland can potentially comprise, for example, labour market support, housing support, and income support. Another factor for consideration is the payment cap placed on many public healthcare services and prescription drugs, which all serve to limit the costs imposed on healthcare service users to a relatively low level.

A collective complaint was submitted to the European Committee of Social Rights, on the basis of the revised European Social Charter, regarding the minimum level of social security benefits and social assistance in Finland. The decision in the complaint was published on 11 February.

The Committee's decision is to be addressed at the next Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, whereupon Finland will present its own perspective on  the matter. The Committee of Ministers is not able to change the content of the resolution. Finland is nevertheless duty bound to report on on the minimum level of social security provision to the Committee of Social Rights within the system of periodic reporting.

The European Social Charter is an international agreement intended to safeguard the application and protection of social rights in Europe. The rights stated in the Charter must be guaranteed by all member states and afforded to all persons within their jurisdiction, without any prejudice or discrimination. The implementation of the Social Charter is monitored via the periodic reports submitted by the member states. In addition, certain organisations have the right to make collective complaints regarding the application of the provisions of the Charter.

Further information

Legal Officer Paavo Kotiaho, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, tel. +358 (0)29 535 1175 (European Social Charter)
Ministerial Counsellor, Health/Medical Affairs Jaakko Yrjö-Koskinen, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, tel. +358 (0)29 516 3305 (Income Support)
Ministerial Counsellor Marja-Terttu Mäkiranta, tel. +358 (0)29 516 3170 (Other minimum benefits)

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