European country trials new payment system for the unemployed

Australia’s welfare system is the constant topic of debate here in the political and social arena. From the tossing around

Australia’s welfare system is the constant topic of debate here in the political and social arena.

From the tossing around of the word dole bludger, to the complaints about Centrelink, it’s an issue many of us have diverse opinions on.

Now one European country is trialling a new system for helping its unemployed citizens and it’s sure to make many of us consider whether we should adopt something similar here in Australia.

Unemployed citizens in Finland will become the first in Europe to get a basic monthly income equal to about $814 (560 euros), which is about a sixth of the average private sector income for a month (3500 euros).

The trial, which will pay 2000 citizens the monthly total for two years, is hoped to boost employment, cut red tape and reduce poverty.

The money will still continue to be paid even after the person gets a job, to give them the incentive to stay in work.

Why’s that?

Well in Finland, unlike Australia, if you’re unemployed you can actually turn down low-income or short-term jobs if you’re worried about losing your welfare payments.

Olli Kanagas, who works for the Finnish government’s KELA agency told AAP  the monthly income would have no reporting requirements.

“It’s highly interesting to see how it makes people behave,” he said.

“Will this lead them to boldly experiment with different kinds of jobs? Or, as some critics claim, make them lazier with the knowledge of getting a basic income without doing anything?”

For a small country of 5.5 million people, Finland has an unemployment rate of 8.1% and is struggling with a joblessness problem.

Kanagas said the basic income trial could be expanded to pay people with part-time jobs or freelancers.

So, could it work in Australia?

What do you think?


  1. Possibly as once you have no job you get out of the work ethic and become depressed etc. It is not a good mental state to be in but this could just get the motivation going again.

  2. Helen  

    Do people in Finland on the basic monthly income get extra payments. In Australia they get an allowance, then they can qualify for rent assistance, child support, health care card, rate assistance etc. These extras bump up the the payments to the same level as some of our lower paid workers so there is no incentive to look for work. Am interested in how other countries look after the poor in there country.

  3. david  

    think it would be brilliant but does it apply to anyone unemployed , i cant get any assistance as i have a rental property even thou its empty and no income from it but stops me getting any help from government at all

  4. Tony Grabrovaz (9th decile human graduate)  

    While the Finnish trial is only with unemployed, the intent of a full Universal Wage system is that it will apply to all people eventually. It is not a new idea, but it is now having a strong resurgence mostly for two reasons. The first is that as the world continues to automate, systematise and globalise, most opportunities for work will disappear.. Unemployment rates of over 60 per cent are expected to become the norm in advanced economies. Work will be a privelege for the few. The second reason is while our wealth is increasing to enormous levels, the distribution is becoming much narrower, while the administrative costs of all social welfare are increasing exponentially. A major change in human behaviour will not come easily or quickly, but major change is inevitable. A Universal Wage, needs to be accompanied by Universal Health, Universal Education, Universal Taxation, Universal Values and possibly even a very much expanded version of Universal Human Rights. Good night and good luck.

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