Government officials were confident that they’d be able to quickly set up a new system to pay full unemployment benefits to thousands of newly laid-off workers in Norway. That’s hasn’t happened. Two months after the Corona crisis threw hundreds of thousands of Norwegians out of work, most haven’t received any money.
Martin Josefsen is among those laid off in March when the hotel where he worked had to close. “We were told we’d be get money within 18 days, but now we’ve been waiting so long,” he told state broadcaster NRK on Thursday.
Josefsen fortunately had some savings so he’s been able to pay his bills, but the cupboard is now running bare. “I’ve used my credit card when I’ve had to buy food and some supples, but it doesn’t feel good,” he said.
Labour Minister Torbjørn Røe Isaksen, who’s responsible for state welfare agency NAV, said the agency ran into technical problems creating a system to pay out 80 percent of benefits instead of the normal 60 percent. NAV simply wasn’t able to handle the demand when as many as 400,000 Norwegians all applied for benefits within a week or two.
NAV officials said they now hope the new system will be functioning by early June. In the meantime, those needing money can apply for the standard 60 percent of their pay (called dagpenger) and then apply for the rest when the new system is working.