Pressure on the Social Liberal leader Margrethe Vestager is increasing as senior Social Liberals reacting against the government line on unemployment benefit eligibility.
Under the current plan, passed by the previous Liberal-led government and supported by the Social Liberals, eligibility for the long-term unemployed to again receive full unemployment benefits comes into effect after 52 weeks in work.
Rank and file Social Liberals, however, are calling for that period to be reduced to 26 weeks as called for by the unions, unemployment funds, the Red Green Party and increasingly also Social Democratic rank and file.
The party political leadership has consistently refused to countenance changes in the regime, which it agreed with the previous centre-right government in 2010. Neither the Social Democrats nor the Socialist People’s Party voted for the move. The Social Liberals, however, made their participation in the current centre-left coalition contingent on adherence to the new rules.
“You can make mistakes, but then you also have to take the consequences. It is obvious to everyone that up to now the incentives have not been sufficient. Obviously something has to be done. The eligibility period should be reduced,” says Jeppe Trolle, a member of the Social Liberal National Board.
“The solution that has been found is a bad one. It makes it highly unattractive to take a short job as it is difficult to see how to achieve unemployment benefit again. The eligibility period needs to be reduced considerably,” says Aalborg local Social Liberal Chairman Keld Kollerup Kvist.
Trolle’s and Kvist’s views are widespread among National Board members that Politiken has spoken with.
The Social Liberal grounds for supporting the reform in 2010, which halved the unemployment benefit period from four to two years and doubled eligibility to 52 weeks, was based on expectations that 3,000 people would lose the right to unemployment benefit and would be put on social security, reducing their income.
Unemployment funds now say that the figure is 30,000 for 2013.
“The prerequisite for the reform was that people got jobs, but that has not happened. Honestly – you can’t let thousands of people drop out of the system and have to manage without help,” says Social Liberal Bornholm Constituency Chairman Peter Lissau-Jensen.
The Social Liberal Leader Margrethe Vestager has not been willing to comment on the issue, but her Political Spokeswoman Sofie Carsten Nielsen says the National Board has determined that the reform cannot be changed. “We are focusing on initiatives that help the unemployed back into the labour market. Eligibility will primarily benefit those who already have a job,” she says.
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Edited by Julian Isherwood