Cheats rife in Swedish welfare system
By David Ibison in Stockholm
November 10 2007
Swedes say they despise people who cheat the country’s generous welfare system at the same time as many do so themselves, government research has concluded.
A two-year study by the Delegation Against Benefit Fraud and Errors said 95 per cent of Swedes condemn cheating but up to a third have no problem either bending the rules, keeping unearned payments or defrauding the system.
The conclusion exposes the underbelly of one of Europe’s most successful welfare states by revealing that Swedes eagerly support their famed Nordic model while simultaneously tapping it for extra cash because “everyone else is doing it”.
[THEY CALL THIS A SUCCESSFUL SYSTEM, B/C NOBODY HAS TO WORK!!!]
“People look at the welfare system as a bank where they do the deposits and withdrawals themselves,” said Björn Blomqvist, the chairman of the delegation.
The report said that, as well as fraud, Swedes indulged in softer forms of cheating, such as working while claiming sick benefits and exploiting loopholes.
The delegation said such activities cost the government about SKr20bn (€2.2bn, $3.2bn) last year, around 4 per cent of total social welfare payments from the country’s 60 social security systems of SKr520bn – far higher than has been estimated previously.
Cristina Husmark Pehrsson, minister for social security, said: “We are now aware of the problem with benefits that are wrongly disbursed, even if the extent of the issue is now estimated to be much larger than inspections have indicated earlier.”
The centre-right government of Fredrik Reinfeldt, prime minister, has made reforming the welfare system one of its core policies to try to wean people off income support and back to work.
[WE WISH THEM GOOD LUCK]
In spite of his commitment to this issue, the report contained troubling news for Mr Reinfeldt. The delegation found that one of the three main reasons Swedes cheat the system was the assumption that politicians did the same.
This conclusion carries particular resonance as the government admitted this week that 10 out of 15 state secretaries in Mr Reinfeldt’s ruling Moderate party paid cash-in-hand for domestic services to avoid tax.
[IT IS APPARENT THAT THE HIPOCRISY OF THESE POLITICIANS IS NOT NOTICEABLY DIFFERENT THAN THAT OF THE FORMER CAPE CRUSADING 'SHERIFF OF WALL STREET' A/K/A DEMOCRATIC NEW YORK STATE GOVERNOR WHO, LITERALLY, WAS CAUGHT WITH HIS PANTS DOWN IN AN FBI STING OPERATION]
The ministry for social affairs, which oversees most benefits payments, admitted these revelations had undermined the government’s authority on welfare reform.
[AS DID THE FORMER GOVERNOR ADMIT THAT HE ENGAGED IN ILLEGAL CROSSBORDER ACTIVITIES THAT HAD UNDERMINED THE GOVERNMENT OF THE STATE OF THE NEW YORK, BEFORE HE DECIDED TO RESIGN HIS POST].
“It is regrettable that even political representatives have failed to follow a number of rules,” said Jonas Nilsson, a political adviser at the social affairs ministry.
“This is not only because it is wrong ... It is also because they take the focus away from our important task of reducing social exclusion.
“They take the focus away from the government’s policies and reforms for more jobs.”
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008