Changes in unemployment benefits, general housing allowance and social assistance | KelaSkip to content

Changes in unemployment benefits, general housing allowance and social assistance

Parliament has approved a number of cuts and other changes affecting the unemployment benefits and general housing allowances paid by Kela. Social assistance will be affected as well. On this page, you can find details on all of the changes and information about your options if your benefits are reduced.

Is English not your first language? We have compiled a summary of the planned changes to benefits in the form of a downloadable information brochure, available in various languages. Click here to see if your language is among the options.

AnkkuriChanges in the general housing allowance

The general housing allowance will be reduced for all recipients during 2024. In 2025, general housing allowance will no longer be paid for owner-occupied homes.

The changes that took effect on 1 April 2024 do not apply to the housing allowance for pensioners. If you want to check what kind of housing allowance you are receiving from Kela, you can do so in the OmaKela e-service. OmaKela is available in Finnish and Swedish.

General housing allowance will not be reduced immediately on 1 April 2024 for all recipients

Most of the changes to the general housing allowance will come into effect on 1 April 2024. The timing of the reduction in your housing allowance depends on your individual circumstances.

If you are granted general housing allowance for the first time on or after 1 April 2024, the amount of your housing allowance will be affected immediately.

If you received general housing allowance before 1 April 2024, your allowance will be reduced the next time you must apply for a review of the allowance.

See when you must apply for a review of the general housing allowance


 

  1. The compensation percentage of the general housing allowance is reduced from the current 80 per cent to 70 per cent of the difference between the acceptable housing costs and the basic deductible.

    Following this change, households will have to pay a larger share of their housing costs themselves.

    The change will take effect on 1 April 2024.
  2. The basic deductible for the general housing allowance will go up from 42 percent to 50 percent.

    Following this change, households will have to pay a larger share of their acceptable housing costs themselves.

    When Kela calculates how much housing allowance a household can get, a basic deductible is determined for the household. The basic deductible will be equal to 50 percent of income exceeding the minimum income limit for the allowance.

    Additionally, the formula used to calculate the basic deductible will be adjusted to moderate the effect of the housing allowance cuts on families with children.

    The changes will take effect on 1 April 2024.
  3. The EUR 300 deduction for earned income will no longer be available.

    Following this change, Kela will take all household earnings into account when calculating the income affecting the housing allowance. Under current practice, Kela has disregarded some household income.

    The change will take effect on 1 April 2024.
  4. The maximum housing costs taken into account in Helsinki will be reduced.

    Until now, the amount of recognised maximum housing costs was higher in Helsinki than in the rest of the Greater Helsinki Region. Starting this year, the amount of recognised maximum housing costs will be the same for households living in Helsinki as for households living elsewhere in the Greater Helsinki Region.

    The change will take effect on 1 April 2024.
  5. General housing allowance will no longer be paid for owner-occupied homes.

    The change does not apply to right-of-occupancy or part-ownership homes. General housing allowance will continue to be available for such homes.

    The change will take effect on 1 January 2025.
  6. Interest payments on housing loans for right-of-occupancy homes will no longer be recognised as housing costs.

    The change will take effect on 1 January 2025.

Example 1: income consisting of part-time work, unemployment benefit and general housing allowance

Heikki works part-time. He lives alone in a right-of-occupancy home in Tampere. Heikki files a new application for housing allowance.                                                                                                                                       

He has the following income sources:

  • Salary EUR 1000 per month.
  • Unemployment benefit before 1 April 2024: EUR 20.93 per day.
  • Unemployment benefit after 1 April 2024: EUR 13.95 per day.                                                                                                         

Heikki’s housing expenses:                                                                                                                       

  • Maintenance fee EUR 550 per month.
  • Water charge, paid separately EUR 20 per month.*
  • Interest on housing loan EUR 38 per month             

Heikki’s housing allowance before 1 April 2024: EUR 232.61 per month.                                                            

Heikki’s housing allowance after 1 April 2024: EUR 124.25 per month.                                                                                            

* The separate water charge is taken into account as housing expense to the amount determined in the fixed charges for water. In 2023 and 2024, the fixed charge for water is EUR 20 per month.

Example 2: income consisting of salary and general housing allowance

Anni works full-time. She lives with her two underage children in a rented home in Rauma. Anni applies for an annual review of the housing allowance on 1 April 2024.                                                                                                                                      

She has the following income sources:                                                                                                                              

  • salary EUR 2,500 per month.                                                                                                                                 
  • Child benefits are not counted as income for the general housing allowance.

Anni’s housing expenses:                                                                                                                          

  • Rent EUR 800 per month.
  • Water charge, paid separately EUR 60 per month.                                                                                       

Anni’s housing allowance before 1 April 2024: EUR 274.72 per month.                                  

Anni’s housing allowance after 1 April 2024: EUR 112.35 per month.                                                                                               

* The separate water charge is taken into account as housing expense to the amount determined in the fixed charges for water. In 2023 and 2024, the fixed charge for water is EUR 20 per month.

Example 3: income consisting of student financial aid and general housing allowance

Ilona is a student. She lives alone in a rented flat in Helsinki. Ilona applies for an annual review of the housing allowance on 1 September 2024.                                                                                                                                         

She has the following income sources:                                                                                                                              

  • Student financial aid EUR 279.38 per month.                                                                                                                              
  • Student loan is not counted as income for the general housing allowance.                                                                                                        

Ilona's housing expenses:                                                                                                                          

  • Rent before 1 September 2024 EUR 740 per month.                                                      
  • Rent as from 1 September 2024 EUR 800 per month.
  • Water charge, paid separately EUR 20 per month.*                                                                                                                 

Ilona’s housing allowance before 1 September 2024: EUR 465.60 per month.                                                                              

Ilona’s housing allowance after 1 September 2024: EUR 394.10 per month.                        

* The separate water charge is taken into account as housing expense to the amount determined in the fixed charges for water. In 2023 and 2024, the fixed charge for water is 20 euros per month.

You can use an online calculator (in Finnish or Swedish) to estimate how much housing allowance you will get after the reduction. The calculator will give you an estimate of the new amount when you select 1 April 2024 or later as the start date.

The following changes to the general housing allowance will take effect on 1 April 2024:

  • The compensation percentage of the general housing allowance is reduced from the current 80 per cent to 70 per cent of the difference between the acceptable housing costs and the basic deductible.
  • The basic deductible for the general housing allowance will go up from 42 percent to 50 percent.
  • The EUR 300 deduction under the general housing allowance scheme for earned income will no longer be available.
  • The maximum housing costs taken into account in Helsinki will be reduced.

The timing of the changes reducing the amount of your housing allowance will depend on your circumstances.

If you are granted general housing allowance for the first time on or after 1 April 2024, the amount of your housing allowance will be affected immediately.

If you received general housing allowance before 1 April 2024, your allowance will be reduced the next time you must apply for a review of the allowance.

See when you must apply for a review of the general housing allowance.

See examples of when the upcoming changes in the general housing allowance will begin to apply in various situations.

To see when you were granted general housing allowance and when it was last reviewed, refer to your most recent housing allowance decision. Visit OmaKela to see the decisions issued to you.

The following changes to the general housing allowance will take effect on 1 January 2025:

  • General housing allowance will no longer be paid for owner-occupied homes.
  • December 2024 will be the last month for which general housing allowance is available for owner-occupied homes.
  • Interest payments on housing loans for right-of-occupancy homes will no longer be recognised as housing costs.

However, the timing of the reduction in the housing allowance depends on your individual circumstances.

If you are granted general housing allowance for the first time on or after 1 January 2025, the amount of your housing allowance will be affected immediately.

If you received general housing allowance before 1 January 2025, your allowance will be reduced the next time you must apply for a review of the allowance.

See when you must apply for a review of the general housing allowance

To see when you were granted general housing allowance and when it was last reviewed, refer to your most recent housing allowance decision. Visit OmaKela to see the decisions issued to you.

You can use an online calculator (in Finnish or Swedish) to estimate how much housing allowance you will get after the reduction. The calculator will give you an estimate of the new amount when you select 1 April 2024 or later as the start date.

You do not have to contact Kela about the changes in the general housing allowance.

If you have questions about the general housing allowance, you can contact us by sending a message via OmaKela or calling our customer service numbers

If there is a change in your own circumstances or the circumstances of a household member, you must apply for a review of the general housing allowance. By applying for a review of your housing allowance, you can make sure to receive the correct amount.

These are some of the situations in which you must apply to Kela for a review of your housing allowance:

  • Your household’s income increases by at least EUR 400 per month.
  • Your household’s income decreases by at least EUR 200 per month.
  • Your housing costs change by at least EUR 50 per month.
  • You move to a different address.
  • There is a change of occupants.

Please note that the decision to abolish the supplemental child increases paid with unemployment allowances may reduce your household’s income by a significant amount. In that case you have the option of applying for a review of your general housing allowance.

Read more about the upcoming changes to unemployment benefits.

See when you must apply for a review of general housing allowance

The legislative changes made to the general housing allowance apply to all current recipients of the allowance, including students.

There is an online calculator (in Finnish or Swedish) you can use to estimate how much general housing allowance you will get once the changes are in effect. The calculator will give you an estimate of the new amount when you select 1 April 2024 or later as the start date.

If you do not have enough money to cover your housing costs once the changes are in effect, use an online calculator (in Finnish or Swedish) to find out if you qualify for social assistance. You can apply for social assistance if all your income and assets are not enough to cover your essential everyday expenses, such as food, housing and medication.

Before applying for social assistance, first find out if there are other sources of income or benefits that could be available to you, such as unemployment benefit or student loans. First claim all benefits to which you are entitled.

Read more: What can I do if I don’t have enough money?

The changes made to the general housing allowance do not apply to the separate housing allowance paid to pensioners.

The housing allowance for pensioners will continue to be available also for owner-occupied homes.

More information is available in a press release on changes to the housing allowance for pensioners in 2024.

Use an online calculator to estimate your general housing allowance

Go to the calculator (in Finnish or Swedish)

AnkkuriChanges in unemployment benefits

The qualifying conditions for the unemployment benefits available from Kela will become stricter in 2024.

There will also be changes to the work requirement for employees.

  1. The waiting period for unemployment benefits has been extended from five days to seven days.

    The waiting period starts on the day a newly unemployed person registers as unemployed. Unemployment benefits are not available during the waiting period. As a result of the change, which has been in effect since 1 January 2024, unemployed persons now start to get unemployment benefits later than before.
  2. In another change, a practice called periodisation was introduced for the compensations that wage and salary earners are paid for untaken leave.

    The periodisation applies to newly unemployed persons who were in full-time work for more than two weeks. If they have paid leave left over when their job ends, the compensation for untaken leave postpones the start of unemployment benefits. The periodisation of the compensation for untaken leave also has the effect of postponing the start of unemployment benefits.

    The change took effect on 1 January 2024.
  3. The EUR 300 per month exempt amount associated with unemployment benefits will be abolished.

    The exempt amount is the amount of money that a recipient of an unemployment benefit may earn without a reduction in unemployment benefits. The abolishment of the exempt amount will affect persons who work part-time or do incidental work and who receive adjusted unemployment benefit.

    Despite the exempt amount being abolished, it will remain financially worthwhile to work during unemployment, because each euro earned only reduces unemployment benefits by 50 cents.

    For example, if an unemployed person currently earns EUR 400 during the period of unemployment, the unemployment benefit is only reduced by EUR 50 due to effect of the exempt amount. After the abolishment of the exempt amount, earnings of EUR 400 will reduce the benefit by EUR 200.

    The change will take effect on 1 April 2024.
  4. The child increases that Kela pays as a supplement to labour market subsidies, basic unemployment allowances and commuting and relocation allowances will be abolished.

    Effective from 1 April 2024, this change applies to unemployed persons who care for a child aged under 18 years.
  5. There will be changes to the work requirement for employees.

    The work requirement for employees will be extended from the current approximately six months to 12 months. This means that, in order to qualify for earnings-related or basic unemployment allowance, unemployed persons must have accumulated at least 12 months that count towards the work requirement.

    In another related change, wages earned during the calendar month will begin to count towards the work requirement. Currently, a person must work at least 18 hours a week in a calendar week for that week to count towards the work requirement based on working time.

    In future, each calendar month with earnings of at least EUR 930 will count as one month for purposes of meeting the work requirement. Each calendar month in which earnings are at least EUR 465 but less than EUR 930 counts as half a month towards the work requirement.

    The work requirement does not have to completed in a consecutive period of employment. Instead, all paid work done during a reference period of 28 months counts towards the requirement.

    In order for work to count towards the requirement, the contract wage must be at least the rate specified in the collective agreement or EUR 1,331 per month.

    The change will take effect on 2 September 2024.

Example 1: Exempt amount removed from unemployment benefits

Vilma works part-time 20 hours per week.

Before 1 April 2024, Vilma receives an adjusted basic unemployment allowance of EUR 774 per month:                                  

  • Vilma earns a salary of EUR 1,000 per month.
  • When adjusting the basic unemployment allowance, the amount of Vilma’s salary that exceeds the exempt amount of EUR 300 is taken into account, that is EUR 700.
  • Each euro earned above the exempt amount reduces the basic unemployment allowance by 50 cents.                                                                                                                

After 1 April 2024, Vilma will receive an adjusted allowance of EUR 450 per month:

  • Vilma earns a salary of EUR 1,000 per month.
  • Vilma’s full earnings, i.e. EUR 1,000, are used as a basis for adjusting the basic unemployment allowance.
  • Each euro earned reduces the basic unemployment allowance by 50 cents.

Example 2: Child increases to unemployment benefits to be discontinued                            

Mikko has sporadic employment. He is a single parent with two children.

Before 1 April 2024, Mikko receives an adjusted labour market subsidy of EUR 774 per month:            

  • Mikko earns a wage of EUR 720 during the adjustment period for the labour market subsidy.
  • Only the amount of wages that exceeds a EUR 300 exempt amount, i.e. EUR 420, is used as a basis for adjusting the labour market subsidy.
  • Each euro earned above the exempt amount reduces the labour market subsidy benefit by 50 cents.
  • A child increase for two children, totalling EUR 184 per month, is added to Mikko’s labour market subsidy.

After 1 April 2024, Mikko will receive an adjusted labour market subsidy of EUR 440 per month:                   

  • Mikko earns a wage of EUR 720 during the adjustment period for the labour market subsidy.
  • Mikko’s full earnings, or EUR 720, are used as a basis for adjusting the labour market subsidy.
  • Each euro earned reduces the labour market subsidy by 50 cents.
  • No child increases will be paid after 1 April 2024.

There are online calculators for unemployment benefits (in Finnish or Swedish) you can use to estimate the amount of your unemployment benefits after the changes are in effect. The changes that will take effect on 1 April will be updated in the calculator by 17 March. The calculator will give you an estimate of the new amount when you select 1 April 2024 or later as the start date.

The following changes in unemployment benefits changes will take effect on 1 January 2024:

  • Waiting period for unemployment benefits extended, periodisation of compensations for untaken leave introduced

The following changes in unemployment benefits changes will take effect on 1 April 2024:

  • Exempt amount on unemployment benefits removed. This will have an effect on the amounts of unemployment benefits in benefit adjustment periods that begin on or after 1 April 2024.
  • Child increases to unemployment benefits discontinued.

The following changes in unemployment benefits changes will take effect on 2 September 2024:

  • Changes in the work requirement for employees.

    If an employee meets the work requirement by Sunday, 1 September 2024, the work requirement rules in effect before 2 September 2024 will be applied.

There are online calculators for unemployment benefits (in Finnish or Swedish) you can use to estimate the amount of your unemployment benefits after the changes are in effect. The changes that will take effect on 1 April 2024 will be updated in the calculators in March 2024. The calculator will give you an estimate of the new amount when you select 1 April 2024 or later as the start date.

More information about the changes in unemployment benefits (in Finnish at elämässä.fi).

If Kela has been recovering the child increases to your unemployment benefit to cover your monthly child support payments, please note that the child increases will be discontinued as of 1 April 2024.

You must make a new payment plan where you outline how you will continue to make child support payments to Kela as they become due. Send the payment plan as a message in the OmaKela e-service (in Finnish or Swedish). The payment plan must meet Kela’s requirements in order to be accepted.

You can check the amount of child support due monthly in OmaKela.  

You can negotiate with your child’s resident parent about drafting a new maintenance agreement, if necessary. In order to do so, contact the child welfare officer of your wellbeing services county.

If you are unable to pay child support, you will accumulate child support debt.

If you have child support debt and Kela has been recovering the child increases to your unemployment benefit to pay off the debt, please note that the child increases will be discontinued as of 1 April 2024. After that, child increases will no longer be available to pay off your debt.

You can check the status of your child support debt and the amount of child support due monthly in the OmaKela e-service (in Finnish or Swedish).  

If your child support debt has not been referred to the enforcement authority for collection, you can make a new payment plan where you outline how you will pay off the debt to Kela. Send the payment plan as a message in OmaKela. The payment plan must meet Kela’s requirements in order to be accepted.

You can negotiate with your child’s resident parent about drafting a new maintenance agreement, if necessary. In order to do so, contact the child welfare officer of your wellbeing services county.

If you are unable to make repayments on your child support debt, find out if you are entitled to an exemption from the payment of child support debt. You must regularly apply for an exemption from payment: Apply for an exemption from payment every two months if your child support debt is not being collected by way of enforcement. If your debt is being collected by way of enforcement, you can apply for an exemption from payment less frequently.

If you are unable to pay off your child support debt and you do not apply for an exemption from payment or are not entitled to one, Kela will refer your debt to the enforcement authority for collection. We will not send you a separate notice about that.

It depends on your maintenance agreement or child maintenance order whether the changes in unemployment benefits affect the child maintenance allowance you receive from Kela.

The changes will not affect your child maintenance allowance in the following situation:

  • a court order or a maintenance agreement confirmed by the municipality or the wellbeing services county states that your child support is confirmed at the amount of the child increase payable with unemployment benefits
  • the order or agreement also states the monetary amount of your child support.

In this situation, Kela will continue to pay you child maintenance allowance in the same way as before. No action is required from you.

If the amount of child support you receive has changed because of a new maintenance agreement or court order, submit the new document to Kela for a review of the child maintenance allowance.

The changes will affect your child maintenance allowance in the following situation:

  • a court order or a maintenance agreement confirmed by the municipality or the wellbeing services county states that your child support is confirmed at the amount of the child increase payable with unemployment benefits
  • the monetary amount of your child support is not stated in the order or agreement.

In this situation, Kela cannot pay you child maintenance allowance after 1 April 2024. The discontinuation of the child increases to unemployment benefits on 1 April 2024 means that your confirmed child support will cease to exist.

You can negotiate with the person responsible for maintenance about drafting a new maintenance agreement. In order to do so, contact the child welfare officer of your wellbeing services county.

If the amount of child support you receive has changed because of a new maintenance agreement or court order, submit the new document to Kela for a review of the child maintenance allowance.

If you have any questions about your child maintenance allowance, you can send us a message in the OmaKela e-service (in Finnish or Swedish) or call our customer service number 020 634 2550.

You do not have to contact Kela about the changes in unemployment benefits.

If you have questions about the unemployment benefits paid by Kela, you can contact us by sending a message in OmaKela or calling our customer service numbers.

If you do not have enough money for your expenses once the changes are in effect, use an online calculator (in Finnish or Swedish) to find out if you qualify for social assistance.

You can apply for social assistance if all your income and assets are not enough to cover your essential everyday expenses, such as food, housing and medication.

Before applying for social assistance, first find out if there are other sources of income or benefits that could be available to you, such as the general housing allowance. First claim all benefits to which you are entitled, including student loans.

Use an online calculator to estimate your unemployment benefit

Go to the calculators (in Finnish or Swedish)

AnkkuriChanges to social assistance

There will also be changes on 1 April 2024 to the housing costs that can be recognised under the social assistance scheme.

There will be changes to the housing costs that can be recognised under the social assistance scheme. The changes are due to a legislative amendment that enters into force on 1 April 2024. The amendment is largely in line with Kela’s current practices: There are municipality-specific limits for reasonable housing costs. If a recipient of social assistance has housing costs that exceed the limit for their municipality, Kela will tell them that they need to look for more affordable housing within three months’ time, unless they have special grounds for staying in their current home. If the customer does not move to more affordable housing within this time limit, their housing costs will be recognised up to the municipality-specific limit, which means that they will get paid less social assistance going forward. However, the time limit can be extended if there is a good reason for doing so.

If the customer continues to live in their current home, they themselves will have to pay for the portion of the housing costs that exceeds the limit.

The legislative amendment will not bring about any major changes to the current practices. Above all, it will clarify the criteria for recognising housing costs by codifying them in an act and a decree. However, the amendment will tighten some of the criteria for recognising housing costs that exceed the municipality-specific limits.

Read more about the change in this Kela press release: Legislative amendment to enter into force: more social assistance recipients will be asked to seek more affordable housing

Have your housing costs previously exceeded the municipality-specific limits for housing costs and has Kela recognised your housing costs in full? As of 1 April 2024, we will take your housing costs into account only up to the municipality-specific limit unless you have special grounds, as defined in the Act, to live in housing where the housing costs exceed the limit. You will have three months to look for more affordable housing. After that, the amount of social assistance you receive may be reduced. You can estimate the amount of your social assistance with the social assistance calculator (in Finnish or Swedish).

Special grounds for living in housing where the housing costs exceed the municipality-specific limits include

  • the advanced age or poor health of the benefit recipient or a family member,
  • a non-custodial parent’s need for additional space for parent-child visits,
  • a school-age child with special needs, where continued attendance at the same school is in the child’s best interests.

However, if there is no housing that meets the criteria for recognised housing costs available in the area where the recipient lives, this will no longer constitute special grounds under the new amendment. The customer must be able to prove that they have looked for more affordable housing using all the means at their disposal. If the customer fails to find more affordable housing within 3 months despite actively looking for it, the time limit can be extended.

In the past, Kela has been able to use discretion in cases where housing costs have exceeded the municipality-specific limits by a small amount. Kela has considered about 5 per cent to be a small amount. It will no longer be possible for Kela to use discretion.

The reason for the request is that your housing costs exceed the municipality-specific amounts recognised under the social assistance scheme and that you have not presented any proof of special grounds for exceeding the limits.

You can start your search for more affordable housing by looking at rental housing owned by your municipality or by private owners. If you need help finding more affordable housing, you can contact the housing counselling services provided by the municipality where you live or by some other organization. Customers who receive social assistance from Kela can receive assistance with their moving costs and with a rental security deposit, on the condition that the rent for the new home does not exceed the limits set for the municipality.

If you do not move to more affordable housing, we will take your housing costs into account up to the municipality-specific limit going forward. This means that you do not have to move, but if you do not move, you yourself will have to pay for the portion of your housing costs that exceeds the limit.

If you are having trouble coping with everyday expenses or if you have social problems, you should contact the social services office of your wellbeing services county. You can apply for supplementary or preventive social assistance from the social services office if you need it.

You can always contact Kela if you have questions about Kela’s benefits or if you want to talk about your situation. We can also arrange talks with a social services expert from the wellbeing services county.

Social assistance is a last-resort form of financial assistance

People with very low incomes will receive social assistance to compensate for the upcoming cuts to the general housing allowance and the unemployment benefits. According to Kela’s calculations, the number of households receiving basic social assistance will increase by approximately 25,000 households in 2024. You are entitled to social assistance if all the income and assets available to you are not enough to cover your essential everyday expenses, such as food and medication.

Read more: For what types of expenses can you get social assistance?

The amount of social assistance is affected by all income and assets available to you

Before applying for social assistance, you must first find out if there are other sources of income or benefits that could be available to you, such as unemployment benefit or housing allowance. First claim all other benefits to which you are entitled.

Ankkuri

I will not have enough money after my benefits are cut, what should I do?

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