Finland has recently begun a two-year trial providing basic income for the unemployed. The concept of a universal basic income, which aims to supply a monthly stipend regardless of employment, has gained currency in recent years. Finland, however, is the first country in Europe to put the idea into practice. Under the new provisions, 2,000 unemployed citizens, selected at random, will receive €560 (£460) per month. The amount will be deducted from the recipient’s other benefits. There are no restrictions on how the money is to be spent and the salary will continue if recipients find work.
The move was made by prime minister Juha Sipla’s centre-right government to reduce unemployment. Under Finland’s current system of benefits, recipients can reject poorly paid or short-term work. The government agency KELA has suggested this is more likely to happen when people fear their benefits will be reduced after returning to employment. The government hopes that a basic income will ultimately reduce poverty by tackling the ‘disincentive problem.’ The monthly allowance is considerably less than the country’s average private sector wage of €3,500. However, expectations remain high that the scheme will reduce bureaucracy while also helping recipients back into work.