The Finnish government is considering a parallel welfare system for refugees who have been given residence permits in the country, Minister for Social Affairs and Health Hanna Mantyla said on Friday.
The proposed system could offer a lower level of subsistence than the standard welfare system, the initial financial assistance given to refugees would be reduced, Finland is also planning stricter criteria for family unification.
Refugee-arrivals would ultimately get full social security, but they would have to show that they qualify as capable residents, said Mantyla. She said the constitutionality of the envisaged system would be investigated first.
The Finnish support system for residents without income covers cost of food, clothing and housing. It also reimburses the cost of small purchases such as basic household appliances. Municipal social services also reimburse health and pharmacy costs.
Jussi Tervola, an expert from the National Social Security System, told Yle that over one third of persons who arrived from what he described as "refugee countries" 10 years ago are still receiving unemployment benefits. He said the acclimation to Finnish working life is often slow.
Tervola warns against the risks of curtailing the assistance given. "Even the standard Finnish support system does not always make ends meet," he said. Refugee-based residents may end up having to resort to charitable food, he suspected.
Finland admitted small numbers of foreign refugees first in 1970s as some Chileans came after the military takeover. The first major wave of refugees was the arrival of persons of Somali origin in early 1990s. In the period between 1973 and 2012, some 42,000 persons arrived in Finland as refugees.