Ministers Andersson and Saarikko: Budget session decisions raise Finland's level of education and secure the funding of civil society
The Government will create conditions for growth in competence levels and employment by extending the duration of compulsory education, allocating funding for continuous learning and lowering fees for early childhood education and care. With the proceeds from gambling services diminishing, the funding for beneficiaries will be fully secured for 2021.
The decisions reached in the budget session will help implement the key objectives of the Government Programme, raising the level of education and competence, narrowing learning gaps and increasing educational equality. Compulsory education will be raised to the age of 18 and free-of-charge upper secondary education will be implemented at the same time. These changes will be adopted gradually from autumn 2021 onwards, one age group at a time. The costs will be reimbursed in full to local authorities and other education providers and, in the case of school journeys, to the students. EUR 22 million has been reserved for 2021 for extending compulsory education, and the level will rise to EUR 129 million by 2024.
“This is the right time to update compulsory education to meet the competence requirements of the 2020s. The coronavirus crisis will not reduce, but rather increase the urgency of investment in competence. The only way Finland can recover from this crisis is with the help of skilled people working, and the decision to expand compulsory education is a historical investment in Finnish competence and a way to make sure employment can grow sustainably,” said Minister of Education Li Andersson.
As outlined in the Government Programme, a three-tier support model suited to early childhood education and care will be developed. EUR 15 million is reserved for developing and implementing the model. This is a new structural measure to strengthen quality and equality in early childhood education and care. As part of employment measures, the Government also outlined that EUR 70 million will be allocated towards lowering fees for early childhood education and care. Lower fees will raise the participation rate in early childhood education and care, as incentives for accepting work will improve. The employment impact of this measure is estimated to be between 2,500 and 3,700 jobs.
“Lower fees in early childhood education and care are an excellent example of how to improve the position of families while at the same time boosting employment. It is high time that we recognise that investing in wellbeing and competence are instrumental in reaching the employment target,” said Andersson.
In addition, the Government decided that funding for future-oriented investments will be allocated to the administrative branch of the Ministry of Education and Culture in the amendment to the budget proposal in November 2020. Altogether EUR 150 million will be allocated by 2022 for recruiting teachers and instructors in vocational education and training. The additional resources will help increase the amount of contact teaching to ensure learning is of high quality. A programme for quality will be launched to improve the quality of general upper secondary education, with EUR 15 million being allocated for this purpose. EUR 40 million will be allocated for promoting continuous learning, with a view to developing the skills of people of working age, improving the skills of those who have poor basic skills and facilitating the employment of older people, in particular.
Funding for culture, physical activity, science and youth organisations secured next year
In 2021, the beneficiaries of proceeds from gambling services will be allocated a level of funding that corresponds to the 2019 level of funding entered as revenue. Most of the central government expenditure on culture, sport and youth work derive from proceeds from gambling services. The estimated proceeds have dropped due to the COVID-19 pandemic and due to measures taken to reduce the harmful effects of gambling.
The compensation for the reduction in the fall in proceeds is EUR 141.5 million for the Ministry of Education and Culture. It is estimated that in the coming years the gambling proceeds entered as revenue will remain lower than at present. The compensation will continue beyond 2021, but it will not be possible to fully compensate for the reduced revenue due to diminished proceeds in the future. In accordance with the Government Programme, a project to reform the Lotteries Act will be taken forward without delay in order to secure the fund-channelling monopoly. The aim is to submit the proposal to Parliament by June 2021.
“Civil society – physical activity, culture, science, youth activities and the work of countless social welfare organisations – is of immense importance for the wellbeing of people in Finland and for us to be able to keep everyone involved. I am pleased that a solution has now been found to cover next year's shortfall and that decisions were also made on long-term measures to strengthen the position of Veikkaus and prevent the harmful effects of gambling,” said Minister of Science and Culture Annika Saarikko.
More support from Government for student meals
The Government decided to propose that the increase in the maximum price for student meals introduced on 1 August 2020 will be offset by an increased appropriation of EUR 4.2 million, which will raise the meal allowance by EUR 0.36. The level of the meal allowance will be EUR 2.30 per meal as of 1 January 2021.
“Student meals are an essential part of the daily lives of students. For many, it may be the only warm meal of the day. This is why it is important that the meal is both of high quality and reasonably priced for students,” said Minister Saarikko.
Education, research and innovation activities among the priorities for recovery
In its budget session, the Government agreed to prepare a sustainable growth programme for Finland that will focus on implementing the objectives of the EU's Recovery and Resilience Facility in further preparation related to this. In line with the recommendations of the European Semester for economic policy coordination, the priorities are:
- Returning Finland to a sustainable growth track through education, research and innovation;
- Green transition supporting structural change in the economy;
- Securing Finland’s international competitiveness;
- Strengthening sustainable infrastructure and the digital transformation;
- Ensuring the functioning of the labour market, services for the unemployed and development of working life;
- Improving access to health and social services and increasing their cost-effectiveness.
During the autumn the Government will submit a report to Parliament on the envisaged use of the funds for Finland’s sustainable growth programme.
The 2012 budget proposal will be deliberated at the Government session on 5 October 2020. The government proposal for the 2021 budget will then be published on the budjetti.vm.fi website. The estimates given above are preliminary figures and may be further specified.
Touko Sipiläinen, Special Adviser to Minister Andersson, tel. +358 40 196 2292
Special Adviser Eeva Kärkkäinen to Minister Saarikko, tel. +358 40 149 2201
Anita Lehikoinen, Permanent Secretary, tel. +358 2953 30182
Pasi Rentola, Head of Financial Control (general financial planning), tel. +358 2953 30211