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Emergency aid for the unemployed
The government has promised targeted initiatives to help the tens of thousands of Danes that stand to lose their unemployment benefits in January.
On Friday, the employment minister, Mette Frederiksen (Socialdemokraterne), announced that 332 million kroner would be made available to help unemployment insurers (A-kasser) and state-run employment centres help the unemployed find work.
“It’s a solution that takes finding work as its starting point,” Frederiksen wrote in a press release. “We should all agree that the best thing for the unemployed is to get them back into work rather than leaving them dependant on unemployment benefits.”
The deal means that extra help finding work will be provided to the 9,000 to 16,000 unemployed Danes that, according to the employment ministry, risk losing their unemployment benefit allowance (dagpenge) in January.
The money guarantees that each at risk unemployed person will be provided a personal job consultant that will help them find work experience, skills training or council-subsidised work.
Unemployment benefits are distributed by A-kasser that employees must join and pay into for a length of time before they can claim benefits.
The problem is that in January, thousands will have reached their limit once the government implements a reform that halves the length of time that they can claim benefits and doubles the length of time needed to pay in to A-kasser before claiming benefits.
The government had already postponed implementing the reform by six months. Frederiksen said that in choosing now to adopt measures for getting the unemployed into work, the emergency package was cleaning up the former government’s mess.
“I must say that the former government, which chose to shorten the period of unemployment benefits, did not really think about what they would do for the unemployed,” Frederiksen told Ritzau. “It’s a responsibility that was placed on our shoulders and we are tackling it.”
Far-left government support party Enhedslisten (EL) had hoped that the government would use their recently announced 2013 budget to postpone implementing the reform once again and has threatened to withdraw their support unless they did.
The government chose not to bend to EL's demands and instead decided to strike a deal with the key unions, employers' organisations and A-kasser to provide the emergency funding.
Hans Bach Mortensen, the CEO of the employers' confederation Dansk Arbejdgiversforening welcomed the funding and pointed out that there were jobs available for Danes.
“It’s paradoxical that many business can only fill unskilled position by turning their attention abroad,” Mortensen told Jyllands-Posten newspaper, adding that funding would allow those without work to be given better information about what work is really available.
EL, however, was critical.
“The emergency funding does not in itself create new jobs but, in the best case scenario, brings the most threatened unemployed further forward in the queue,” EL's employment spokesperson Christian Juhl told Jyllands-Posten.
EL has argued that in principle there should be no limits to the length of time that people can claim unemployment benefits.