Utopia denied as social services/healthcare gets deep cuts.
Not quite everything changes at the start of the year, but you might need a short guide to understand what’s new in 2015. Here’s our roundup of what you need to know.
Social services, benefits and insurance
Income support benefits go up by 1.1 percent, while changes to housing benefit will see many recipients have their benefits re-assessed.
Child benefit will be cut by 8.1 percent. The new benefits will amount to 95.75 euros for the first child in the family, 105.80 euros for the second, 135.01 euros for the third, 154.64 euros for the fourth and 174.27 euros for each child after that.
Income-related unemployment benefits will be cut for all those whose income for the purposes of assessing the benefit is greater than 3,116 euros per month.
The Social Insurance Institution Kela will only reimburse costs for dental visits every other year. The amounts Kela pays for private dentist treatments will also be reduced.
Changes to alcohol advertising laws will drastically reduce the number of alcohol adverts visible on the streets and in the media in Finland. The new rules are intended to reduce the alcohol advertising seen by children.
Payments for social and healthcare services rise by as much as 9.4 percent. These are the payments for visits to the doctor or nurse, home help or other social services.
Unemployment insurance contributions increase by 0.15 percent.
Taxation up on tobacco and fuel
More people will be paying the highest rate of state income tax, as the threshold is lowered from 100,000 euros to 90,000 euros.
The tax deduction on interest paid on housing loans is to be reduced in stages, to 65 percent in 2015 and then by a further 5 percent each year until 2018.
Cigarettes are to get more expensive, with a pack of 20 set to cost 7.1 percent—or 38 cents—more from 1 January.
Petrol is also on the tax man’s hit list, with the tax on a litre set to go up by 0.84 of a cent. Diesel is hit harder, with an increase of 0.95 of a cent per litre in store. Those rises will cause a slightly bigger increase in the price at the pump.
The cost of heating oil, district heating and electricity are all set to rise by between 2.5 percent and 4 percent.
From 1 January changes to bankruptcy laws will allow more small entrepreneurs and young people to enter payment plans in exchange for a reduction on their debts.
New legislation will make training for the commission of terror acts a crime, while the scope of legislation covering funding for terror will be broadened.
Plea bargains will become possible in Finnish courts, with prosecutors expected to make the greatest use of the legislation in complicated fraud cases.
Three municipal mergers will come into force (Pori and Lavia, Kuopio and Maaninka and Tarvasjoki and Lieto), while the Swedish-speaking towns of Korsnäs and Larsmo will officially become bilingual authorities. That will leave mainland Finland with 32 bilingual municipalities and one solely Swedish speaking council, Närpes. Local government in Åland is unilingually Swedish.
The price of a passport will drop to 44 euros for those applying online and 48 euros for those who do so in person.
Higher education institutions will have to reserve a quota of places for first-time applicants, in an effort to speed up the progress of young people through the education system and into working life.