As a result of strong inflation and high interest rates, more people are applying for social assistance. NAV will now make fewer requests in meetings with those who need support.
NAV has received new figures from municipalities comparing the number of applications for financial social assistance in October 2021 and October 2022.
The figures show an 18 percent increase, which NAV calls a strong increase. In 2021, an average of 54,000 people received financial social assistance each month.
– Everyone notices that prices are higher than normal, and many people need help, says Employment and Inclusion Minister Marte Mjøs Persen (Ap).
The increase in social assistance applications is believed to be linked to the influx of refugees from Ukraine. 29,000 refugees have settled so far this year.
But others need support:
Some municipalities have many low-income groups, those in work and those receiving social security benefits, who seek social assistance more often than before.
According to NAV, 500,000 Norwegians continue to have a low income.
A press release from the Ministry of Labor and Inclusion says many municipalities are concerned that higher prices will lead to more groups struggling this winter.
– Today I introduce a new guide for NAV, which emphasizes people’s right to individual treatment, employees’ professional discretion and the generosity inherent in the law, says Employment and Inclusion Minister Marte Mjøs Persen (Ap).
The supervisor recommends that NAV offices, among other things, make fewer requests for mapping and documentation and be restricted in requesting the sale of properties if the need for assistance is short-term. Special attention should be paid to the needs of children.
The new supervisor will assist the NAV office, who will be tasked with discretion and undertake substantive and individual evaluations of applications.
– If you don’t have money for food and electricity, or don’t know what to do to pay bills or mortgage installments, contact us at NAV as soon as possible, says NAV director Hans Christian Holte.
He says NAV will help with both short-term and long-term solutions.
Economically disadvantaged groups often report that they cannot afford certain material or social goods, one says New NAV report About low income and living conditions in Norway.
– The difference between the general population and those with low incomes is the ability to buy a car, the ability to replace worn-out furniture, or when to own one.
The report says that you can go on a week’s vacation.
Worse in small municipalities
The increase in applications for social assistance is distributed differently:
Smaller municipalities say the number of applications has increased by an average of 30 percent. Cities like Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim saw an average increase of 11 percent.
One in ten municipalities expect more inquiries about social assistance in a timely manner, including those that have not yet had a large request.
131 municipalities responded to NAV’s survey. It covers nearly two-thirds of the population.
83 municipalities reported having one or more volunteers delivering food in the municipality. 51 of them are of the opinion that “influence on these has increased”.
Mostly short-term help
Prior to the recent increase, there had been a decline in the number of people receiving social assistance over the past four years. In 2021, 118,900 people received social assistance for at least one month.
Most people receive social assistance for a short period of time. According to NAV, it is common to receive benefits for one month, but the average is five months.
The average payment is over NOK 10,000 per month. More than NOK 6.7 billion in financial social assistance was provided in 2021.
500,000 with low income
In a new report on low income and living conditions, NAV writes that the majority of people have a high standard of living and good living conditions.
But the disparity between those who have less and those who have more is widening.
- In 2020, there were 575,000 people living in a household with an income below 60 percent of the median income.
- More than 500,000 people – ten percent of the population – are persistently low-income. This group is stable.
- Young people are the largest low-income group after the proportion of pensioners on low incomes has fallen sharply.
- In 2020, 115,000 children continued to live in low-income households. Most of these children have a migrant background.
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