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Lifebuoy for the unemployed

The prime minister has presented the government’s plan to help unemployed about to lose benefits.

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Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt has presented the government’s emergency plan to help some 30,000 people in 2013 who risk dropping out of the unemployment benefit scheme to land on social security.

“This will provide peace of mind for those who have come into a very difficult situation,” Thorning-Schmidt said at her weekly news conference.

Called ‘New and better phasing in of the benefit reform’, the initiative prolongs the re-education period by six months and introduces a temporary labour market benefit to run until 2016.

Under the benefit, family providers will be able to draw 80 per cent of the maximum unemployment benefit, while non-providers will be awarded 60 per cent.

Those on the new labour market benefit will have to make themselves available in a different way than those on unemployment benefit, among other ways in job activation measures and utility work.

Financing for the initiative is to be found by increasing subscriptions for unemployment fund members in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

“..We are amending the much too fast phasing-in (Ed: of the reform) that the previous government and the Danish People’s Party decided in 2010,” the prime minister said, poignantly leaving out naming her coalition partner, the Social Liberals of Economy Minister Margrethe Vestager.

The unemployment benefit issue has dogged the Social Democrats and Socialist People’s Party since they took power in 2011. Neither party supported the reform when it was put in place by the previous Liberal-led government in 2010.

The Social Liberals, who are now part of the current centre-left coalition, joined the Liberals, Conservatives and Danish People’s Party in supporting the measure at the time.

When passed in 2010, the then Liberal-Conservative government forecast that it would affect 2-4,000 people each year, who would drop out of the unemployment benefit system and into the lesser benefits of the social security system. That figure has been re-estimated on several occasions, with the latest estimate that it will affect 30,000 people in 2013 alone.

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