Only a fifth of Finns would balance public sector economy by cutting
social services and benefits
STTK (25.10.2010 - Juhani Artto) Finns prefer tax rises to cuts in
social services and benefits, when asked for their preferences on how to
balance the public sector economy. More than a third (38 per cent) would
approve tax hikes to reach this goal but only a fifth would accept cuts
in social services (21 per cent) and benefits (20 per cent).
These are some of the major findings in a recent survey, commissioned by
The Finnish Confederation of Professionals STTK. This came to light in a
representative sample drawn from almost 1,100 Finnish citizens, from 15
to 74 years of age.
In order to safeguard the public economy over a third (35 per cent) are
prepared to accept increases in public service fees or the outsourcing
of public services. Nearly as many Finns again (33 per cent) would be
willing to sell off public property. But far fewer people would be
willing to lower wages and salaries of public sector employees (11 per
cent), and very few (4 per cent) regard cuts in pensions as a relevant
or realistic alternative when it comes to balancing the public sector
As to the tax hikes the clearly most popular decision would be to raise
capital income tax (58 per cent). It was followed by increases in
environmental and energy taxes (32 per cent), company tax (30 per cent)
and tax on wealth (29 per cent). The least popular options would be
higher VAT (20 per cent) or higher income tax rates (16 per cent).
Participants were also asked to name the five most important goals for
the next four or five years. They were given 21 alternatives. Improving
employment and reducing unemployment received, by far, the most
listings. Three out of four replies (76 per cent) included this goal.
The other top goals were balancing the state economy and reducing the
debt (43 per cent), keeping prices low (35 per cent), securing the
overall economy and services of the municipalities (33 per cent) and
developing social and health services.
Promotion of entrepreneurship and environmental protection were listed
by 29 per cent of the respondents. It was slightly more than crime
prevention (26 per cent) and reduction of social inequality (23 per
cent). At the very bottom, with only 1 per cent of the respondents
having ticked them, were expansion of minority rights and promotion of
When asked what things worry the respondent most, unemployment scored
highest on the list (58 per cent). It was followed by health care (45
per cent), crime (44 per cent), climate change and environmental
problems (42 per cent), problems caused by immigration (39 per cent) and
price level and consumers' purchasing power (39 per cent). Only 5 per
cent listed military threats and defence among the things they worry about. Less
than a fifth worry about education, alcohol issues, company
competitiveness and taxation.
Such kind of opinion surveys form part of STTK's strategic planning.
They are made biannually. Also, biannually STTK commissions a large
survey on salaried employees' position in the labour market and
attitudes concerning various issues, central to the trade union