Tougher welfare rules put youth to work

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Norway’s state welfare agency NAV is seeing some positive results from its current process of toughening rules for obtaining benefits. Demands that young welfare recipients “get up in the morning” have led to fewer obtaining benefits and more finishing high school, according to new research.

Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported recently on the case of a 22-year-old man in Drammen who was sent to work in a café at humanitarian organization Kirkens Bymisjon, in order to keep receiving NAV benefits. He said the mandatory work “is one of the best things that’s happened to me,” because it’s motivated him to keep searching for work and already “feeling like I’m in the job market.”

Being ordered to “get up in the morning” and work a full day “does something to you,” he told DN and researchers agreed. “Letting young people receive benefits passively doesn’t do them any favours,” Simen Markussen, a researcher at Frischsenteret, told DN. “They should have activity demands from Day One.” In Drammen, the amount of 21-year-olds receiving benefits has declined from 15 percent to 11.5 percent, while those completing high school in that age group have risen from 50 to 52 percent.

NAV is now also warning that workers losing their jobs in the current oil industry downturn may need to relocate and accept available jobs or lose their unemployment benefits. Some politicians from the Socialist Left party (SV) have warned against NAV rules becoming too rigid. “It can mean that some people in a very difficult period of their lives will simply stop going to NAV, and not get the help they need,” Kirsti Bergstø, a Member of Parliament for SV, told DN.

newsinenglish.no staff