Lesley Riddoch on Nordic Horizons Facebook Page – Welfare Nordic Style

Posted on 09/10/2012


Re-posted here for non-users of Facebook
“Interesting discussion last night on Newsnight Scotland where I was a guest with Bill Jamieson to discuss the future of welfare system in Scotland. OK it didnt actually end up there (newsnicht “discussions” rarely do) but interestingly the presenter chucked the example of Sweden at Ruth Davidson regarding her horror at the high % % of public expenditure going on benefit payments here. In the Nordics the proportion spent on “welfare” is higher but the numbers receiving some kind of support are also the highest in Europe — welfare is not a desperate “last resort” or admission of failure. In many ways it’s the state redistributing income across an individual’s lifetime as much as between individuals. i did some reading on this y’day and there are indeed big debates about future affordability
of “universal benefits.”But a Nordic Council report on the subject worries any drop in quality of welfare services will damage social cohesion & the ability of women 2 work and thus kill the golden goose that lets the whole Nordic economy “fly” – trust, fairness, and very high levels of employment. This is surely the right kind of approach to the same basic dilemma. Yesterday George Osborne suggested removing housing benefit from under 25s (Shelter tell us half are living with children) and inviting workers to swap employment rights regarding unfair dismissal for company shares. Yesterday too, Norway extended paid paternity leave to 14 weeks and (a few months back) won the accolade of best country in the world for mothers – for the third year running. Last week Iceland celebrated a return to growth by increasing child benefit. Cmon everyone. There IS an alternative. I’m not suggesting Scotland or the UK aims to become a carbon copy of the Nordics. Just the longer we deny their general success, the harder it will be to turn the boat around.”