Finland Is Told Its Welfare State Can’t Cope With Virus Fallout

Bloomberg News

One of the world’s best-funded welfare states is starting to crack as the fallout of the coronavirus triggers mass unemployment. Finland’s system of jobless benefits can’t cope with the sudden surge in demand, the country’s biggest unemployment fund, YTK, said. There are more than 300,000 Finns who suddenly find themselves without work, either through temporary layoffs or outright job cuts. A large chunk of them may have to wait until next year to get their first benefit payment, YTK said. Money’s not the problem, Managing Director Sanna Alamaki said in letters to members sent through April 1. It’s “that the benefit applications can’t be processed and, consequently, money can’t be paid out quickly enough,” she said. YTK is expecting “a flood” of more than 100,000 applications through April. That’s double the number it would process during an average year. Even if it triples staff, people would still face a three-month wait for their jobless benefit, YTK said. That exceeds the legal limit of 30 days.

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