Welfare in Sweden
Social welfare in Sweden is made up of several organizations and systems dealing with welfare. It is mostly funded by taxes, and executed by the public sector on all levels of government as well as private organizations. It can be separated into three parts falling under three different ministries. Social welfare is the responsibility of the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs. Education is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education and Research. The labour market is the responsibility of the Ministry of Employment.
The modern Swedish welfare system was preceded by the poor relief organized by the Church of Sweden. This was formalized in the Beggar Law of 1642,
and became mandatory in the Civil Code of 1734, when each parish was required to have an almshouse.
This system was changed with the Poor Law of 1847, when the first national poor care system separate from the church was organized: a mandatory public poor care relief fund financed by the public was established in each parish (after 1862 municipality), managed by a public Board of directors for poor relief, and the church was no longer directly involved (though the parish vicar were always to be given a place in the board), transforming the poor care from the church to the state. In the reformed Poor Law of 1871, however, the criteria of whom was eligible to receive benefits was severely restricted to include only orphans, the aged and the invalids, and in parallel, the system was complemented by old customs such as rotegang, Child auction and fattigauktion. This system was in place until 1918.
During the 19th century private sick benefit societies were started, and in 1891 these became regulated and subsidized. The Liberal Party government passed the National Pension Act in 1913 to provide security for the aged and in 1934 the private unemployment societies were regulated and subsidized in a way similar to the sick benefit societies.
The Poor Care law of 1918 replaced the law of 1871, transformed the old fashion poor care law to a more humane modern social welfare system and abolished a number of old outdated customs, such as rotegang, Child auction and fattigauktion, and transformed the old poor houses to retirement homes. The final transformation of the old poor care system to a modern social welfare system was the Social Help Law of 1956 (Lagen (1956:2) om socialhjalp)
In 1961 the private sick benefit societies were replaced with county-level public insurance societies who also handled pensions. The independent and mostly union-run unemployment benefit societies has been more centrally regulated and levels are now regulated by the government.
The Ministry of Health and Social Affairs is responsible for welfare. This is defined as financial security in the case of illness, old age and for the family; social services; health care; promotion of health and children’s rights; individual help for persons with disabilities and coordination of the national disability policies..
Sweden’s entire population has equal access to the public health care services. The Swedish health care system is publicly funded and run by the county councils. The health care system in Sweden is financed primarily through taxes levied by county councils and municipalities. The health care providers of the public system are generally owned by the county councils, although the managing of the hospitals is often done by private companies after a public tender. During the last decade several county councils have started using a Fee-for-service system for primary health care under the name “VardVal”.
Dental care is not quite as subsidized as other health care, and the dentists decide on their own treatment prices.
Elderly care in Sweden is the responsibility of the local municipalities. There are both retirement homes as well as home care, with home care on the rise.
The Swedish social security is mainly handled by the Swedish Social Insurance Agency and encompasses many separate benefits. The major ones are:
In its 2017, police stated that welfare fraud was prevalent in vulnerable areas, where benefits administered by Swedish Public Employment Service and the Swedish Social Insurance Agency were targeted. Police had identified resident registry figures that had been manipulated: for instance, 2% of all apartments in Rinkeby had between 10 and 30 persons registered as residents, which led to an inflated number of people receiving welfare benefits.
Education is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education and Research. Education responsibilities includes pre-school and child care for school children as well as adult education.
The labour market policies fall under the responsibilities of the Ministry of Employment. The responsibilities considered to be a part of the welfare system includes unemployment benefits, activation benefits, employment services, employment programs, job and development guarantees, starter jobs, and the European Social Fund. Sweden has state-supported union unemployment funds.