15.05.2017

Swedish welfare under pressure from immigration question

400Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson has admitted Sweden has “major problems” as a result of the population growth brought on by mass immigration.
Earlier this week, the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKL) admitted, by 2020, municipalities face a funding deficit of 40 billion Swedish Krona (£3.5 billion) to finance services like hospitals and nursing homes.

“Demographic trends show that, with more children and more elderly people, the need for local government services is expected to grow significantly faster than the tax base,” says Annika Wallenskog, chief economist at SKL.

Andersson told Swedish Television News (SVT) that “it is quite obvious that we have big problems” as a result of the demographic changes aggravated by mass migration. The welfare system has come under increasing pressure in recent years, in part because of soaring immigration. Last year, Sweden granted protection to 69,350 people, so the subject is clearly not going to go away. Instead, the question of how best to integrate the newcomers will likely be one of the key points of debate in the 2018 Swedish election.

The Socialist minister stressed the country must hire more staff and build more facilities, and said politicians cannot afford to promise any tax cuts.

Sweden’s National Audit Office announced in November that it believes the government “underestimates public spending”.

In a piece published by Dagens Nyheter, the office remarked: “”If the government’s forecasts are realised, Sweden will be required to make significant reductions to welfare, and municipalities significant cuts by 2020. “If local government wants to be able to meet the needs of the increased population that is projected, it will have to increase expenditure by 50 billion Swedish Krona beyond what is in the government’s forecast for 2020.”

Last week, NGO network the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) carried out a report on racism and discrimination in the context of migration across 26 EU countries, and when it comes to Sweden, researchers concluded that while the country appears to be more progressive than other EU nations on immigration, the tide is turning.
"In terms of immigration and integration policies it appears that Sweden is more progressive than other countries, but the tide is also turning. A number of restrictions to existing migration and integration policies have been introduced, and the media discourse has shifted from positive welcoming of refugees and asylum seekers to portraying migration, and by extension, migrants, as a problem," ENAR press spokesperson Georgina Siklossy told the media.


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