The Minister of Finance proposes a child supplement to help families

The Minister of Finance proposes a child supplement to help families

In light of the rising cost of living, the Minister of Finance Annika Saarikko (Cen) has proposed that families with children be paid a one-time additional allowance at the end of the year.

The minister first presented the idea on Yle TV’s current affairs program in A-studio on Wednesday evening and then told more about the proposal on Twitter.

"Families with children are a group that needs attention. After the improvement of the coronavirus situation, the birth rate in Finland has been exceptionally low. We cannot afford to make families sick – we have to take care of every child," Saarikko said at A-studio.

This week, the Ministry of Finance started work on the dissolution of next year’s state budget.

The minister said that families with children are suffering particular financial blows due to rising food, energy and transport costs.

Annika SaarikkoSakari Piippo / Yle

"Most of their income goes to sustaining their daily life," he tweeted Wednesday night.

Social Insurance Agency Kela pays benefits for children who live permanently in the country until the age of 17.

Saarikko stated that Finland’s child benefits, to which all families with children are entitled, are not index-linked. This means that payments will not increase as inflation increases.

He said the additional benefit would be one-time, suggesting the state would not need to borrow funds to implement it.

For families with many children, the bonuses can mean additional funding of up to hundreds of euros, as the subsidies increase with each additional child. For example, the first child is entitled to a monthly payment of around 94 euros, the second child 104 euros and the third child 133 euros.

“Not enough for the poorest families”

However, the children’s ombudsman, Elina Pekkarinensaid the bonus would not be enough to really help the country’s poorest families.

He pointed out that inflation has weakened the purchasing power of emission rights and pointed to an estimate according to which the benefit has decreased by up to 30 percent of its original value.

Converted to the current value of the euro, the average child allowance in 1995 was around 145 euros per month. In 2014, after the benefit was cut, its value was 122 euros.

Commissioner for Children's Affairs Elina Pekkarinen looks out.
Elina PekkarinenNiko Mannonen / General

However, Pekkarinen admitted that bonuses of hundreds of euros would be a significant boost for families. He said that distributing support to all families would be a way to help everyone, but also those who don’t need it.

He described the minister’s proposal as a symbolic gesture for all Finnish families.

However, he said that in order to survive properly, the country’s poorest families need, in addition to bonuses, more targeted measures, such as additional and other livelihood support and help from organizations.

Despite this, Pekkarinen said he accepts general bonus payments because all families are dealing with rising costs.

However, Pekkarinen pointed out that the additional compensations do not affect Finland’s lagging birth rate.

"State subsidies alone are not enough to increase the birth rate. It requires major changes in work and family life and a child- and family-friendly atmosphere," the child advocate said.

The news agency STT reported, referring to the estimates of the Ministry of Finance, that distributing the bonuses to all families with children would cost the state approximately 112 million euros.

Source: The Nordic Page