Labour Minister Anniken Huitfeldt is evaluating changes in the welfare benefits available for young Norwegians, after state broadcaster NRK reported that for many, it’s more profitable to collect benefits than to get a job.
Around 28,000 persons under age 30 currently collect what’s called arbeidsavklaringspenger (benefits aimed at helping them find a job). In many cases, the monthly benefits of as much as NOK 15,000 (USD 2,500) or more can be higher than what they’d be paid in a part-time job.
Telemark County has the most young persons collecting disability pay because they can’t find a job for which they’re qualified. The local head of state welfare agency NAV admitted to NRK that he can understand that it can hurt motivation when the welfare benefits are higher than minimum wages.
Huitfeldt said it was “completely unacceptable,” and that the government will review individual benefits before submitting its budget for next year. “It can’t be better to be idle and stay at home than to get out and work,” she told news bureau NTB. Even though Norway has a low unemployment rate, many young persons who have dropped out of high school lack skills for available jobs and also drop out of vocational programs.
The Conservative and Progress parties hoping to replace the current left-center government of which Huitfeldt is a member seized on the issue immediately, and declared that welfare recipients should be required to collect garbage, shovel snow, chop firewood or work at other such jobs in order to qualify for benefits while also looking for permanent jobs. Local townships can make demands on welfare recipients, but not all do.