Conservatives in city hall opposed further assistance for the capital’s unemployed, arguing in part that it would undermine their will to work.
Yesterday, the Social Democrats and the Best Party passed a proposal on the Welfare Committee that would increase benefits to unemployed people in the city who, while unemployed, do not qualify for any other type of financial assistance. In addition, they voted to increase monthly unemployment payments from 125,000 ISK to 149,000 ISK. These changes would require a budget increase of 350 million ISK, unless cuts are made in other areas to make up for the difference.
Conservatives Geir Sveinsson and Áslaug Friðriksdóttir opposed the measure, saying that it would reduce people’s will to work, the major complaint being that the payments are now equal to the bare minimum the law requires people be paid in order to live. “As the situation is now,” their objection reads in part, “where it is generally considered difficult to find work and hopelessness is pervasive, it is unfortunate to raise financial assistance to the level of the lowest wages. This will increase the number of people seeking assistance and slow down the number of people looking for work.”
The conservatives contend rather that the poor and unemployed should be encouraged to find work, or better paying work.
It should be pointed out that there is no precedent for what the conservatives argue, i.e., that unemployment payments at the level of minimum wage saps people of their will to work. In fact, numerous studies have shown that this is a myth.