Dorte Paterson currently has to see seven different council employees for her needs, and soon it will be eight.
One helps her with her social security, there's another for her housing benefit, a third for family issues, number four is a support person, the fifth is an employment caseworker, the sixth is at the job centre and the seventh helps with her alcohol abuse. Shortly she will get her eighth, a job consultant.
Paterson, who is an unemployed 49-year-old recovering alcoholic living in Aalborg, said that she was completely bewildered when trying to contact someone at the council and stressed because she could only call between 9-10am in the morning.
“I sat there with a massive stack of papers staring at all the names of the different caseworkers and contact people, their numbers, opening hours, addresses and I didn’t know whether to call the one, the other or the seventh,” Paterson said. “And when I get through, the worker is often busy or not available. It's madness having to contact seven different people.”
One of Paterson's caseworkers, Marianne Særmark, agreed that it’s a massive problem that a person has so many caseworkers and contact persons to deal with. And Paterson's case is not unique
“It is frustrating for all the people on social security that are in the system,” Særmark said. "The process really needs to be changed. I don’t know if we can get down to one or two contact persons, but seven is simply outrageous.”
Ole Pass, the social manager at Rødovre Council, agreed that things should be made simpler and said that the politicians must step in to make the necessary changes.
“We need help in the form of new resolutions from parliament, because it’s the politicians who have divided up the social arena into compartments, like separating the job centres from the social centres,” Pass said. “The challenge will be to make it easier for the citizen without jeopardising the expertise required to assist in solving the problems.”
As of today there are 130,000 Danes on social security costing the state 15 billion kroner. The government seems poised to address the dilemma and has announced that it will be making a proposal in the near future that will reform the social security sphere.
“A lot of resources, financial as well as human, are being wasted,” the employment minister, Mette Frederiksen (Socialdemokraterne), said. "That’s why the government’s goal with the upcoming reforms is to place the person before the system.”