SYL on the social security reform: student financial aid should be included in the new basic social security benefit

Today, the National Union of University Students in Finland (SYL) issued a 20-page statement on the Social Security Committee’s interim report. SYL proposes a reform of student benefits as part of the social security reform and that student benefits be included in the new basic social security benefit.

In its interim report, the Social Security Committee has proposed that sickness allowance, family allowances, rehabilitation subsidy, basic unemployment allowance and labour market subsidy be combined into a new basic social security benefit. In its statement, SYL proposes that student financial aid also be included in the basic social security benefit.

Combining the different benefits would help meet the objectives set by the Social Security Committee, i.e. clarify and simplify the benefit system and its implementation as well as facilitate the transition from one benefit to another. The need to reform student benefits has also been identified in the committee’s interim report and several statements given by the Finnish Parliament.

“Our statement is exceptionally broad and detailed, since, from the perspective of students, there are many problems with the current social security system. That’s why it is also important to consider student benefits and take bold measures in connection with the social security reform,” says SYL board member Jenny Kasongo.

SYL’s statement raises several situations and examples of the incompatibility between student benefits and other social security benefits, such as the wide grey area between sickness allowance and student financial aid, the social exclusion trap between labour market subsidy and student financial aid, and the unnecessary use of basic social assistance due to insufficient duration of student financial aid.

Many of the proposals made by the Social Security Committee are already under consideration in the ongoing government negotiations and may be taken forward for preparation in the upcoming parliamentary term.

“Before the government negotiations, there have been rumours of cuts in the housing allowance and various changes to student financial aid, for example. Many of these would directly affect students’ livelihoods and potentially complicate the system even more. Now more than ever, we need to support students and solve the benefit problems,” says Kasongo, expressing a wish to the political parties currently meeting in the House of the Estates in Helsinki to form the next government.

SYL hopes that the proposals, which are particularly important to students, will be taken forward and demands that a student representative be included in the work of the Social Security Committee and the possible preparation of its proposals in the coming parliamentary term.

Read the whole statement (in Finnish) here.

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