Expenditure on housing benefits increased due to COVID-19

Kela paid a total of 2,232 million euros in housing benefits in 2020. This was 4.2% more in real terms than in the previous year. At the end of the year, nearly 859,212 persons lived in households that received housing benefits, representing 15.5% 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. Also basic social assistance can be granted to cover housing costs.

 

COVID-19 caused a new surge in housing benefit expenditures

Spending on general housing allowances increased during the 2010s, but the increase came to a halt in 2019. In that year, the expenditures were roughly the same as in the preceding year. As a result of COVID-19, general housing allowance expenditures began to increase once more, rising to 1,566 million euros in 2020, a real terms increase of 4.8% over 2019.

The number of households receiving general housing allowance payments increased to more than 400,000.

A legislative amendment enacted in 2015 caused an increase in general housing allowance expenditures. The amendment simplified the system, loosened eligibility requirements and increased the number of recipients. In 2017, spending on the general housing allowance increased by 16.6% as most students were transferred from the student housing supplement scheme to the general housing allowance scheme in August of that year. The spending continued to increase in 2018, when students were covered by the general housing allowance scheme throughout the year.

Students make up a third of all general housing allowance recipients

A total of 402,559 households received general housing allowance payments in December 2020, i.e. 23,000 households more than in the previous year. The share of student households among total recipient households was 40%, while unemployed households accounted for 36% of the recipient households.

In December 2020, a total of 240,140 non-student households received general housing allowance, compared with 229,559 in December 2019. In 2020, during the COVID-19 epidemic, the number of student and other households was up by about 10,000 from the previous year.

 

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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Statistics

Research

  • Sihvonen E. Tutkimus perhe- ja tulokäsitteistä sosiaaliturvaetuuksissa. Helsinki: Kela, Sosiaali- ja terveysturvan raportteja 24, 2021. https://helda.helsinki.fi/handle/10138/325849
  • Jauhiainen S ja Raivonen L. Maahanmuuttajien Kelan etuuksien käyttö vuonna 2018. Helsinki: Kela, Työpapereita 157, 2020. https://helda.helsinki.fi/handle/10138/322299
  • Haapanen M ja Hakovirta M. Lapsen vuoroasuminen ja sosiaaliturva. 11 maan vertailu. Helsinki: Kela, Työpapereita 156, 2020. https://helda.helsinki.fi/handle/10138/320834
  • Jauhiainen S, Sihvonen E, Räsänen T, Veilahti A ja Mikkola H. Asumista tukemassa. Helsinki: Kela, Sosiaali- ja terveysturvan tutkimuksia 155, 2019. 
  • Honkanen P. Yksin asuvat asumistuen saajat Helsingissä. Julkaisussa: Väliniemi-Laurson J, Borg P, Keskinen V, toim. Yksin kaupungissa. Helsinki: Helsingin kaupungin tietokeskus, 2016: 183–188.

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Contact information

  • Signe Jauhiainen, Research Manager, tel.  050 331 3982
  • Sami Tuori, Statistics Specialist tel. 050 301 7762

email: firstname.lastname@kela.fi

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