Finnish Immigration Service reduces asylum seeker financial support

The Finnish Immigration Service has cut financial support for asylum seekers by 10 per cent since 2009 as the country struggles with growing asylum seeker numbers. Six years ago, a family of five asylum seekers entering Finland would get a monthly allowance close to €1,300 to be used for food and general living expenses.

However, Finnish Immigration officials say that despite cost of living increases a family of five asylum seekers arriving now receive ten per cent less than in 2009, approximately €1,100 per month.

Head of the Finnish Immigration Service's reception unit, Jorma Kuuluvainen, said: "The money is meant for families to cover necessities such as food, clothing and basic hygiene."

Asylum seekers are also entitled to a certain level of healthcare, but this is restricted to necessary medical procedures. Kuuluvainen said: "For instance, to receive dental treatment the condition must be something severe like toothache, but nothing more. The pain is taken care of and we address acute needs."

Nordic countries

Compared with other Nordic nations, Finland's financial provision for asylum seekers sits in the middle. For instance, in Sweden a family of five receives approximately €760 per month; however, it does take in almost ten times as many asylum seekers than Finland.

Whereas Norway pays out monthly support of €1,400, while Denmark provides a little more with €1,470 per month, however, it takes in fewer asylum seekers than Finland.

More asylum related funding requested by officials

To cope with the influx of asylum seekers, Finnish immigration officials say they will ask for a further €19 million to fund reception centres and provide services for refugee immigrants. However, Kuuluvainen fears that additional funding will not be sufficient should the rate of asylum seeker arrivals continue at the current pace.

He said: "If asylum seekers continue to arrive at this pace and numbers grow, it's increasingly likely that €19 million won't be adequate. We'll be left with no other option but to ask the Finnish government to provide further funding."

The Finnish Immigration Service anticipates that by the end of 2015, the country would have granted asylum to 4,121 people compared to 2,995 accepted in Denmark, 6,026 in Norway and 37,033 granted asylum in Sweden.

In 2014, 3,561 people sought asylum in Finland.