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Decisions on spending limits for the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health:
Decisions in the mid-term review promote wellbeing and support COVID-19 recovery efforts

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
30.4.2021 12.41 | Published in English on 3.5.2021 at 13.24
Press release 120/2021

Minister of Social Affairs and Health Aino-Kaisa Pekonen, Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru and Minister for Nordic Cooperation and Equality Thomas Blomqvist say that the Government’s decisions at its mid-term policy review session will reinforce health and social services, improve access to care, safeguard the financing and activities of third-sector operators, promote the employment of people with partial work ability, and prevent disability pensions and sick leaves.

More funds for COVID-19 vaccine procurement

The Government decided to reserve EUR 50 million for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines for 2022 and EUR 35 million for 2023.

Disability pensions and sick leaves will be prevented

The Government is committed to a long-term approach in its work to raise the employment rate. As part of its employment boosting measures, the Government decided to promote work ability and wellbeing at work. To reach to the employment target, it is essential to be able to prevent mental health problems, sick leaves and disability pensions.

The Government aims to achieve a significant increase in employment by 2030 through preventing retirement on disability pension and through shortening career breaks due to illness. The Government’s goal is to prevent at least five per cent of all new disability pensions that are based a mental disorder diagnosis, creating a potential employment generating impact of some 2,500 persons. Both services and benefits will be reformed so that they primarily support smooth and rapid return to work and lower the disability retirement rate and shorten sick leaves. Wellbeing at work and prevention of mental health problems will be developed, and the rehabilitation and benefits systems will be reformed.

The operational programme for working life and good mental health will be harnessed to prevent working careers being cut short prematurely. The programme will develop a model for supporting mental health in occupational healthcare cooperation and boost the Government’s mental health strategy.

The Government will continue to reform the rehabilitation system on the basis of proposals of the rehabilitation committee. This reform will reinforce the links between employment services and clients’ treatment and rehabilitation paths. It will improve the functioning of the system of services and benefits to promote employment.

More people will be helped to return to work sooner after sick leave with the nation-wide adoption of a “TYÖOTE” model, developed in Central Finland, to reinforce links between rehabilitation and occupational healthcare.

The development programme for working life and wellbeing at work and the reform of the rehabilitation system will continue as planned.

Financing and activities of organisations, associations and foundations will be safeguarded

The Government proposes a total of EUR 635 million for 2022 and 2023 in compensation to organisations, associations and foundations to safeguard their funding. The compensation will amount to EUR 330 million in 2022 and EUR 305 million in 2023. The need for this compensation is due to the decrease in the proceeds of the state-owned company Veikkaus Oy.

This compensation will be financed by reducing the lottery tax, by budget funds with a spending limit impact, and by making use of the non-distributed proceeds in the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and its branch of government. 

The Government proposes to start immediate preparations for creating a new, permanent model of financing for organisations, associations and foundations. The aim is to decide on a model that ensures predictable, stable and adequate funding for beneficiaries that also protects their autonomy. The work will be based on the Liikanen group’s report and further work will be carried out in close cooperation with the beneficiaries. The preparation of the measures will take into account parliamentary involvement, more detailed impact assessments for the various beneficiaries, the proposals of the development and digitalisation project concerning discretionary government grants, and the parameters defined by EU law. Implementation of the reform will start in 2024. The decisions will be made by the end of 2021.

More funds for the health and social services reform

The Government decided to reserve EUR 400 million for the preparation and implementation of the health and social services reform for 2022–2025. The funds will be targeted to ICT system changes in the future wellbeing services counties and the joint county authority for the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa, among other measures.

Funds for services for children and families, child strategy, services for mothers suffering from substance abuse, and the Consideration for farmers model

A sum of EUR 29.5 million will be earmarked for future-oriented investments for 2022. The future-oriented investments will include the developing of services for children and families and the preparation of a child strategy, among other projects. In addition, they will safeguard services for mothers suffering from substance abuse and enable the continued use of the “Consideration for farmers” model.

COVID-19 recovery of children, young people and families will be supported

The Government will carry out a comprehensive package of measures to alleviate the negative effects on children and young people from the COVID-19 crisis. The negative effects have resulted from the restrictions imposed on care, education and recreational activities to slow down the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic.

Funding will be allocated to the patching of the learning gap created by distance learning, the speeding up of young people’s access to mental health and substance abuse services and the improving of the accessibility and availability of such services, among other measures. In addition, families’ need for support will be taken into account in the package. The package will be coordinated with other COVID-19 recovery measures and the implementation of the national child strategy.

The COVID-19 epidemic has added to the support needs of children, young people and families. Many studies indicate that the prolonged crisis affects the wellbeing of all children, young people and families, but most of all it affects vulnerable groups. The COVID-19 crisis has in many was aggravated inequality in society. There is a risk of a long-term growth in the need for remedial services unless decisive measures are taken to turn the trend. Therefore, preventive services, early support services and primary services must be reinforced, with particular attention to supporting families and parenting, addressing the backlog in access to mental health and child protection services and improving the cooperation of these services.

Shorter waiting times for access to care

The Government decided to implement the shorter waiting times for access to primary healthcare as set down in the Government Programme. The goal is to submit to Parliament a government proposal on shorter waiting times for access to primary healthcare and oral health services in 2021.

The legislative changes are to enter into force in 2023. Prior to 2023, it is necessary to improve the cost effectiveness of primary healthcare activities, which is the responsibility of municipalities and joint municipal authorities, so that access to care will improve. In addition, the backlog in services, rehabilitation and treatment caused by the COVID-19 epidemic will have to dismantled.

To improve access to care and the availability of services, development measures will be carried out as part of the Future Health and Social Services Centres programme and with the help of the Sustainable Growth Programme for Finland. Responding to the strong trend in population ageing requires practices that help people stay functional as long as possible.

In 2020, a total of EUR 70 million was allocated in the form of discretionary government grants to projects in the future wellbeing services counties. The grants, allocated through the Future Health and Social Services Centres programme, targeted projects with a specific aim to improve access to care, support young people’s access to psychosocial treatment and promote the programme’s other objectives. Development projects are underway in all the future counties’ areas. The aim is to open a supplementary call for programme applications in 2021.

The national guidance provided for government grant projects will be strengthened. This is to ensure that the projects improve access to care in concrete and measurable ways.
The Government plans to support the availability and cost-effectiveness of healthcare and social welfare services with the help of the EU-funded Sustainable Growth Programme for Finland (Pillar 4). The plan is to implement a call for government discretionary grant applications during the latter half of 2021. The projects are to target the future wellbeing services counties.

Call for government grants for wellbeing services counties

A call for government grant applications will be opened in autumn 2021 where the future wellbeing services counties can seek funding for ICT projects related to the health and social services reform. The grants are intended for planning and preparing the projects, for recruiting key officials and for purchasing services essential for administration and finances. The amount of grants awarded in the initial phase will be specified later as part of supplementary budget preparation. It is estimated not to exceed EUR 50 million. The funding is conditional on the start of the activities of the wellbeing services counties.

Sustainability road map to show way towards social, economic and ecological sustainability

In its mid-term policy review, the Government published a sustainability roadmap that describes the current state of social, economic and ecological sustainability in Finland and sets goals for 2030. With this sustainability roadmap, the Government aims to highlight its objective of a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable society as set in the Government Programme. The sustainability roadmap also identifies key themes and areas where new policy measures and initiatives will be needed in the near future and in the longer term.

Inquiries 

Jiri Sironen, Special Adviser, tel. +358 295 163 410 (general questions)
Timo Lehtinen, Special Adviser, tel. +358 295 163 387 (general questions)
Anders Portin, Special Adviser, tel. +358 295 150 280 (general questions)
Kirsi Varhila, Permanent Secretary, tel. +358 295 163 338 (general questions)
Mikko Staff, Director of Finance, tel. +358 295 163 214 (general questions)
Taneli Puumalainen, Director General, tel. +358 295 163 280 (pharmaceutical services, vaccine procurement, environmental health)
Satu Koskela, Director General, tel. +358 295 163 380 (status of clients and patients, services)
Veli-Mikko Niemi, Director General, tel. +358 295 163 425 (health and social services for children, young people and families, promotion of functioning and health, Funding Centre for Social Welfare and Health Organisations STEA)
Kari Hakari, DIrector General, tel. +358 259 163 642 (health and social services reform, service system)
Liisa Siika-aho, Director, tel. +358 295 163 085 (social insurance, benefits)
Minna Saario, Director, tel. +358 295 163 146 (health and social services reform, service digitalisation)
Ville Hänninen, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 295 163 518 (support for work ability, TYÖOTE model)
Tomas Forsström, Head of Financial Planning, tel. +358 295 163 563 (agencies and public bodies)
Lassi Kauttonen, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 163 577 (STEA grants)
Minna Liuttu, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 163 582 (social insurance)
Satu Seikkula, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 295 163 479 (government grants, central government transfers to local government)

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