Independence Party MP Brynjar Níelsson has expressed concern at the high number of disabled people on unemployment benefits. He emphasised that despite empathising greatly with those disabled people who are completely unable to work, he feels that those who can work need to take responsibility for themselves. Vísir reported on this after Brynjar discussed the issues in SSölvi Tryggvason’s podcast.
“In disability, there is almost an exponential growth,” said Brynjar. “Sometimes it is as if there is no discussion about fraud in the social security system, because then those who are disabled are being attacked and people just put all the disabled in the same place.”
He added: “If the development is such that each taxpayer has one disabled person and one elderly person, then it has become quite a lot and something that of course does not last long. If the number of those who pay net tax continues to decrease, then of course we are no longer sustainable and action needs to be taken.” There is, it should be noted, no solid indications that either of these statements do or will reflect reality.
Brynjar believes that Iceland should follow the example of Denmark and Norway and take a hard line on all fraud in the social security system. He worries that Icelanders are scared to address the issue for fear of being accused of ableism.
“At some point we have to dare to address this. If people are working illegally who are receiving benefits, of course it should be investigated as any other fraud, but it is sometimes as if it is not allowed. We as a society cannot in the long run afford to increase the number of people on benefits indefinitely without considering that they shouldn’t all be receiving them.”
Brynjar claims that he knows of many disabled people who supplement their benefits with undeclared work, but offered no evidence to this effect. Rather, most of what he discussed was in the realm of speculation; not evidence.
The original discussion can be seen below:
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