Increase in housing benefit expenditures more moderate in 2017

Kela paid a total of EUR 2,003 million in housing benefits in 2017. This was 4% more than in the previous year. Nearly 860,000 persons lived in households that received housing benefits, representing 15% of the Finnish population.

Kela provides the following housing benefits: general housing allowance, housing allowance for pensioners, student housing supplement and housing assistance for conscripts. Housing costs are also taken into account when reviewing an application for basic social assistance.
Spending on general housing allowances has increased rapidly. There was an upswing in housing benefit expenditure after Parliament passed an amendment in 2015 which simplified the system, relaxed eligibility conditions and expanded the scope of recipients. In 2017, spending on the general housing allowance increased by 17% as the majority of students were transferred from the student housing supplement scheme to the general housing allowance scheme in August of that year.

Students now make up nearly a third of all general housing allowance recipients

Students living in rented accommodation in mainland Finland were transferred to the general housing allowance scheme in August 2017.

A total of 381,500 households were active recipients of general housing allowance as of December 2017. Forty percent were unemployed households and thirty-seven percent student households. One year before, a total of 267,400 households were paid general housing allowance, 59% of whom were unemployed households and 8% students.

The transition of students to the general housing allowance scheme increased the number of recipients. The number of other recipients stayed the same in 2017 and even declined somewhat towards the end of the year. In December 2017, a total of 240,652 non-student households received general housing allowance, compared with 245,537 in December 2016.

For most, the general housing allowance is a temporary form of assistance

The mean duration of new housing allowance spells beginning in 2013–2016 was about 20 months. The majority of the recipients are young people, who move off the allowance more quickly than other recipient groups.

Single-parent households have longer spells on general housing allowance than persons living alone or households with more than one adult member.

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Research published outside Kela’s own series

  • Honkanen P. Yksin asuvat asumistuen saajat Helsingissä. [Recipients of housing benefits living in one-person households in Helsinki.] In: Väliniemi-Laurson J, Borg P, Keskinen V, eds. Yksin kaupungissa. [Alone in the city] Helsinki: Helsingin kaupungin tietokeskus, 2016: 183–188.

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Signe Jauhiainen, tel. +358 50 331 3982
Heidi Kemppinen, tel. +358 20 634 1307


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