SYN_SWE_B_SocialAssistance - European Centre for Social

Synopsis table
Who plans and
Social assistance
State (national or federal level)
The legal framework for
social assistance is the
Social Service Act
(2001:453). Mostly
regulated is the part of the
law focusing on cash
allowance, where there is
a national uniform benefit
standard determined each
year by the Swedish
parliament. This part is
regulated rather detailed
(see policy area vignette
summary). The other part
focusing on the peoples
responsibility for their own
lives, help to self-support,
activation, managing their
economy… is not at all
regulated by legislation.
A monetary benefit
standard was introduced
by the National Board for
Health and welfare in
1985, to at serve as
guideline for the monetary
standards established by
the municipalities. Its
purpose was to harmonize
assessments of what a
reasonable living standard
(who defines them))
The right to social
assistance is not
conditioned, thus all
people can apply for
it –but eligibility will
be tested through an
individual means
The Social Service
Act is a framework
law, only
intentions and the
frame of the
activities, leaving
rather great
discretion to the
(who pays)
Evaluation of needs
and access
allocation of resources
(who carries it out)
(from whom to whom)
Sweden’s National Board
of Health and Welfare
(Socialstyrelsen) and
County Administrative
Boards (Länsstyrelser)
have a joint duty to
supervise the work of the
municipal Social
Services. The supervision
of the Social Services is
aimed at ensuring that
the Social Services
monitor the quality of and
strive to improve their
activities with regard to
individuals’ legal rights
and the quality and legal
correctness of the
services provided. The
National Board of Health
and Welfare has general
responsibility at a
national level.
Provision of services
is, to limit the variation
between the municipalities
and to simplify case
processing routines by
including as many items
as possible in the
standard. Nonetheless,
several municipalities
began to exclude some
budgetary items included
in the guidelines,
supported by a decision of
the Supreme
Administrative Court in
1994, and in 1996 about
half of the municipalities
had excluded one or
several items from their
local standards. A national
benefit standard was
introduced in 1998 that
now serves as a kind of
lowest standard the
municipalities are obliged
to follow.
The right to appeal is one
aspect that has changed
over time. In the revised
Social Service Act from
1998 the individual
possibilities to appeal
were restricted. Restricted
possibilities to appeal
resulted in a reduced
influence of the
administrative courts
whereas municipal
influence grew. This
however was changed
anew in the revised law
from 2001 to the earlier
status. That is the right to
appeal applies both to
decisions concerning
basic living costs, as well
as decisions about other
types of assistance.
Region (Specify)
The County
Administrative Board is
responsible for routine
inspection at county level.
The National Board of
Health and Welfare has
general responsibility at a
national level, but neither
the National Board of
Health and Welfare nor
any other body has the
right to contest the
supervisory decisions of
the County Administrative
Board. The National
Board of Health and
Welfare and the County
Administrative Boards
collaborate to strengthen
and develop the
supervision of the Social
The County
Administrative Board
supervises both
municipally and privately
run services.
Province (or other subregional
authority, specify)
Municipality (or other local
authority, specify)
Other institution (specify)
Not for profit actors
For profit actors
Other social actors
Users (Specify)
Other (Specify)
No one
The municipalities
normally formulate own
policies regarding for
example demands
towards clients or
amounts in granting other
needs as those defined in
the national standards.
Eligibility criteria are
also formulated in
the municipal
Funding social
assistance is a
responsibility and
financed via local
Social assistance is a
municipal responsibility
and the municipalities
administrate and finance
the benefit. They have the
autonomy to choose the
organizational form of their
activities according to the
local conditions Regarding
the activation part of the
law that means peoples
responsibility for their own
lives, help to self-support
and activation other actors
on the local level (such as
the local public
employment office or a
local municipal
employment centre) can
be involved.