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Types of expenses for which you can get basic social assistance

Basic social assistance may be available to individuals and families whose income and assets do not cover their essential daily expenses. Basic social assistance consists of a basic amount and other basic expenses.

Parliament has approved the amendment concerning the recognition of housing costs under the social assistance scheme

The legislative amendment will not bring about any major changes to the current practices. Mostly, it will make the criteria for recognising housing costs clearer by codifying them in an act and a decree. However, the amendment will in some respects tighten the criteria for recognising housing costs that exceed the maximum limit. The legislative amendment will enter into force on 1 April 2024.

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Basic amount

The basic amount is a fixed sum of money towards the essential costs of daily living, such as food and clothing.

The basic amount is a fixed sum of money needed for the essential costs of daily living.

The basic amount covers the following:

  • food
  • clothing
  • minor medical expenses (e.g., over-the-counter medication)
  • personal hygiene and keeping your home clean
  • public transport
  • newspaper subscription
  • telephone and internet
  • hobbies and recreation
  • other comparable expenses of daily living.

This means that such essential costs are not examined separately, but are covered collectively by the basic amount. Therefore, you need not present evidence (e.g. receipts or invoices) for expenses covered by the basic amount. A separate basic amount is calculated for each family member. Example showing how the basic amount is calculated.

In 2024, the basic amount of social assistance for persons living alone is EUR 587.71 per month.

More information about the basic amount.

Other basic expenses

The following are other basic expenses which are taken into account up to a reasonable amount:

You must be prepared to show proof of your expenses (for example in the form of a rental agreement or invoice). Usually Kela recognises the expenses as such unless they are considered to be unreasonably large.

Bills are handled on the basis of the original due date, and not for example on the basis of the due date in the payment reminder.

Expenses for which you receive compensation from some other source (such as a compensation from the insurance company for eyeglasses) are not recognised for social assistance.

Social assistance is a benefit of last resort. Therefore, it does not cover expenses for which you are compensated out of some other scheme or through some other benefit.

How basic social assistance is calculated

The right to basic social assistance is determined by estimating, on the basis of the Social Assistance Act, the amount of assistance needed by the applicant and by calculating the applicant's income, assets and expenditure.

  1. Income includes the after-tax income available to the applicant and his or her family and any assets that they have.
  2. Expenses are defined as the expenses covered by the basic amount and other essential basic expenses.  
  3. If the recognised expenses are higher than the income, the difference between the expenses and income is paid to the applicant as social assistance.

The decision is usually made for one month at a time. Income, assets and expenses are calculated for a period of one month. Basic social assistance can be granted for a period shorter than one month. In that case, the amount of assistance per day is calculated by dividing the basic amount for the full month by 30.

Basic social assistance is usually initially granted for a period of one to two months. After that it is possible to renew your application and receive additional assistance.

If there is a change in your income or circumstances, be sure to tell Kela about it.

Use an online calculator to estimate the amount of social assistance available to you

Before applying for basic social assistance, use an online calculator (in Finnish) to see if you or your family are eligible for social assistance and how much you could get.

Example

A resident of Sipoo, Sanna is unemployed and the single parent of two children under 10 years of age. She has no savings or other assets. Because of her difficult financial situation, she applies to Kela for basic social assistance.

The family's income is as follows:

  • labour market subsidy + child increase €732.48 
  • child benefit + single-parent supplement €346.32 
  • housing allowance €662,40
  • child maintenance allowance €392.04  

The family's expenses are as follows:

  • rent €810
  • water charges €45
  • basic amount linked to family size €1,463.40:
    • single parent €669.99
    • first child 10 years or older €411.40
    • second child 10 years or older €382.01

Total income €2,133.24 – total expenses €2,318.40  = –€185.16 

Sanna and her family are paid €185.16 in basic social assistance.
Social assistance is not subject to tax.

The amounts shown reflect the rates for 2024, specifically 1 January 2024 to 31 March 2024.

Social assistance is usually granted for one month at a time. If you have regular monthly income and expenses, you can apply for social assistance for a longer period of time.

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Last modified 15/1/2024

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