Derailed budget for people with personal assistance
Using inadequate data and deciding not to take into account facts widely known in the sector, the government claims that the hourly rate for personal assistance is too high and says that it intends to “fix” this by under-funding assistance compensation, not only in 2016 but also in the following years. It should be noted that the current compensation is only SEK 284 per hour, unlike the cost of other services in the community.
“The Social Insurance Agency’s previous task of proposing an hourly rate before the start of each year has also been removed with the stroke of a pen. It is the equivalent of the government guessing railway maintenance costs itself rather than listening to the Swedish Transport Administration's recommendation. Both things lead to a policy that has lost its way,” says Harald Wessman, Business Area Manager, Humana Assistance.
“Not raising the flat rate for personal assistance by more than 1.4 percent per year until 2018 means that the government will make it much more difficult for people who are currently dependent on personal assistance, whether the individual users deal with their own assistance provision or have a non-profit organisation or company like Humana as provider.
With the focus and priorities of personal assistance being increasingly about the state’s desire to save money and control cheating and less about how we can best meet the needs of the people most in need in the community, there is a significant risk that the intentions of the assistance reform will be greatly compromised. Those of us who are reputable providers of personal assistance welcome scrutiny, but this must not affect the individual. Many people eligible for assistance are now worried that there will be even tougher requirements for certificates and investigations.
It is very clear that the main goal is cost containment for personal assistance. The government is raising the stakes for the 20,000 or so people who are currently dependent on personal assistance in Sweden. This is deeply unfortunate,” concludes Harald Wessman.
For more information contact:
Harald Wessman, Business Area Manager, Humana Assistance, 070 0222 827
Patrik Silverudd, Press officer, Humana, 0766-112 111
Information provided by Sweden's municipalities and county councils has shown for some time that many municipalities are experiencing a significant deficit in the area of personal assistance. This is despite the fact that only three in ten assistance clients choose the municipality as their provider. If private providers disappear, the municipalities could find themselves taking responsibility for more assistance clients, which would increase the risk of a higher total cost to society. The individual’s freedom of choice is being curtailed, which runs counter to the intentions of the assistance reform.
The profitability of personal assistance has fallen from an average of five percent a few years ago to something approaching zero. There is also an imminent risk of an average negative result for the sector. This is not sustainable and could be a reality as early as next year.
The doubling of employer contributions for young people has made the situation precarious, as a large proportion of personal assistants are young. The municipalities have partly compensated for this, but private providers (non-profit or companies) have not.
The reputable providers of personal assistance have collective agreements. However, the compensation is the same for providers who have collective agreements and those who do not. Wage increases for this year alone are higher than the flat rate calculation made in the lead-up to 2015.