Thousands of Danes on unemployment benefits for a decade

The employment minister calls the situation “totally unacceptable”

Some 10,000 Danes have been getting unemployment benefits (kontanthjælp) for at least 10 consecutive years, according to figures from the Employment Ministry.

Jørn Neergaard Larsen, the employment minister, has called the situation “totally unacceptable” and wants to make changes to the welfare system.

It is totally unacceptable that we have people in Denmark who have been on kontanthjælp for so long without a single month of interruption in the form of job or training,” Larsen told Jyllands-Posten.

READ MORE: Dansk Folkeparti would like to see the unemployed cleaning school toilets

Case by case
Larsen is aware that many of the long-term unemployment benefit receivers are people with physical and mental problems and he proposes to tackle each case individually.

“We must realise these people’s problems are often so lengthy and complex that the job centre cannot solve them on its own,” Helle Linnet, the chairperson of the Danish Association of Municipal Social, Health and Labour Inspectors, told Jyllands-Posten.

“Typically, their problems have arisen long before these people showed up at the job centre.”

Some 43 percent of these long-term kontanthjælp receivers have foreign background. Many of them come from Iran and Somalia or have a stateless status.