The Constitution of 1849 stated that anyone who was unable to provide for himself and his family was eligible for social assistance from the public. This right was embodied in various social laws until the social reform in 1933, which meant a systemization of the rules and implemented by the Social Democratic Socialist KK Steincke. It formed the basis for the legislation right up to 1976, when it was replaced by simpler social legislation, the Assistance Act (Assistance Act). In addition, a comprehensive reform was made in the area of sickness benefit, which ensured everyone the right to compensation for salary losses due to illness. At the same time, decisions in the social field were decentralized.
As a basic principle, the Assistance Act stated that the starting point was the applicant’s needs and that it would not necessarily be as comprehensive investigations as before. At the same time, the division between different types of clients was abolished, and the main rule was that a person would only have to turn to one place. When it became evident in the 1980s that the expenditure on cash assistance under the Assistance Act rose very sharply, the need principle was abolished and a system of fixed rates was introduced. This simplified the administrative work of calculating the amounts to be paid, while giving the beneficiaries information about their rights.
In order to counteract exclusion from working life, a law was introduced in 1989 according to which people who need vocational training (rehabilitation) are entitled to a particularly large contribution. If, due to social and/or health reasons, the rehabilitation is deemed to be futile, the necessary early retirement pension is awarded.
In the pension area, a major reform took place in the mid-1960s, with the introduction of a full national pension for everyone. At the same time, it was decided that it would be paid to each individual pensioner (married pensioners were counted as two pensioners). The disability pension scheme (IP), ie. the Act on Sickness Pensions, was revised and divided into highest, middle and – which was a news – lowest IP. In 1970, some changes were made to pension legislation due to the introduction of withholding tax and expected membership in the EC. The Danish pension system differs from the systems in the other EC countries in that it covers the entire population through tax financing. Everyone who is 67 years of age is entitled to a national pension, regardless of whether they worked or not. After the age of 70, all basic pension will receive the basic amount regardless of any income. Persons over the age of 60 who wish to withdraw from the labor market may under certain circumstances receive so-called early pay. For those who do not want to leave the labor market completely, it is possible to receive a partial pension, ie. a reduction in wages with regard to working hours, combined with a social contribution.
Setting up society so that families with children have better opportunities to combine working life and family life is a general goal. Therefore, in addition to maternity leave for the mother, there is the possibility for the father to receive 10 weeks of leave with salary or daily allowance in connection with the child’s birth. In addition, the father is entitled to 14 days’ leave directly related to the child’s birth. In order to improve conditions for families with children, new grants have been introduced, with special supplements for families with young children, twins or triplets.
In 1994, a law on leave to care for children was introduced for all employees and also unemployed with children under 9 years. The leave can be up to one year and financed with grants.
Danish aging policy has recently undergone significant changes. In the past, there was a tendency to regard older people as helpless individuals whose only future was a nursing home, but now they want the elderly to stay in their homes for as long as possible. A prerequisite is that the municipalities provide comprehensive service to the elderly and that housing is set up so that service for the disabled is facilitated. Nursing homes in the traditional sense will no longer be built. One consequence of this reform is that the national pension does not need to be deducted for the people who will be living in nursing homes. Instead, the pensioner must pay for his or her services for his or her pension. In general, it is a central idea in Danish social policy that one should put the strong sides of citizens at the center and not, as before. Visit AbbreviationFinder to see the definitions of DMK and acronym for Denmark.
This philosophy has recently given clear results; the active line in Danish social policy has been considerably strengthened. Previous aid for passive support has been diminished. This new thinking means that when a person seeks help for a social need, an action plan must be drawn up at an early stage so that the person can enter the labor market as quickly as possible. The same goes for combating social exclusion. It is now widely recognized that people affected by this need to be re-adjusted to society and working life. As a result, it will be more difficult to receive early retirement, since it is believed that most people have a capacity that can be utilized in the labor market, for example. in the form of specially protected work, which is partly financed by society. This should also be seen in connection with the fact that within Danish society there is a growing understanding that the companies themselves have a social responsibility for their employees. Thus, it is not ethically justifiable to dismiss employees and expect society to take over their livelihood. In order to increase the understanding of this innovation, some of Denmark’s most important business leaders have created a network that works in close cooperation with the Ministry of Social Affairs.
Like other countries, Denmark faces a demographic challenge as a result of the reduced number of children and the consequent lack of providers of future pensioners. This problem has led to the questioning whether or not the early salary is too generous. Politically, therefore, various options are being considered to make people stay longer in the labor market. In recent years, it has been noted that even a fine-grained social safety net like the Danish one is not enough in all respects to catch everyone in need. Therefore, there is a growing understanding that voluntary social work has its justification as a complement to the public system, and no insignificant resources have been allocated to support private initiatives. Furthermore, there is a tendency for a more market-oriented philosophy to spread within social policy. It has among other things has become legitimate to allow private companies to take over a wide range of social service functions. In addition, pension schemes associated with companies have become much more common in recent years.
2011 Continued human rights violations
In May, Amnesty International released its annual report, notably mentioning the upheavals in the Arab world and WikiLeaks’s significant share in these upheavals. In the Danish state media, the mention of Wikileaks was carefully censored, and the media also refrained from mentioning Amnesty’s criticism of the rising lawlessness in the country. Amnesty in particular criticized Denmark’s terrorist legislation, torture and ill-treatment, the rights of refugees and immigrants, violence against women and discrimination. In the area of terrorism, Amnesty criticized the unrestricted surveillance of the country’s citizens, the terrorist legislation that drastically diminished democratic rights, the “evaluation” of the 2010 terrorist legislation carried out solely by intelligence and police, and the expulsion of Tunisian Slim Chafra sentenced to expulsion by the East High Court in a farcical trial, where the “evidence” was secret. In the area of torture, Amnesty criticized the state’s attempt to extradite Niels Holck to jail in India as well as the police’s routine degrading treatment of protesters. The human rights organization here specifically referred to the abuse of protesters during the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009. Amnesty also criticized Denmark’s continued expulsion of refugees to Greece, despite a judgment in the European Court of Human Rights banning such expulsions. Likewise, the deportations to Iraq were criticized. Denmark also violates international conventions on this point. Amnesty criticized Denmark for having insufficient legislation to protect women from sexual abuse. Under 20% of the reported rape cases end up being convicted.
A few days before the publication of Amnesty’s annual report, Denmark was for the first time under examination at the UN Human Rights Council. While the government itself submitted a report to the council shaming the situation in the country, human rights organizations had submitted reports on human rights violations in the country. 48 countries spoke during the three-hour “examination”. European member states kept low profile in the criticism of Denmark. Nevertheless, the Council subsequently submitted 133 recommendations to Denmark for amendments to existing legislation, in which Denmark violates numerous international conventions. The most important of these were:
- The use of long custody must be restricted
- Any report of abuse by the police must be investigated independently
- Police visitation zones must not discriminate ethnically or religiously
- Police officers must be identifiable
- Everyone must be guaranteed the right to family life and the choice of spouse – without being discriminated against on the basis of ethnic origin
- Denmark needs to change its practice of returning foreigners to countries and regions, especially Iraq, where they are at risk of persecution or violence.
- Detention of refugees and asylum seekers may only be done as an emergency solution
- An open and transparent investigation of the CIA’s torture flight landings on Danish territory must be conducted
- An independent evaluation of the Danish terrorist laws must be made
The Danish government completely ignored the Council’s recommendations. The government’s arrogant attitude was subsequently criticized by a.k.a. Amnesty and Center for Human Rights.
10 years of poverty growth
In the period 2001-10, Denmark slipped down the prosperity curve and has become poorer. In UN statistics, the country dropped from a 14th to a 19th place on the so-called Human Development Index (HDI). Within the EU area, the country fell from a shared 1st place in 2001 to a 11th place in 2009 in the absence of poverty. In 2001, 4% of the total population was poor, measured by Eurostat’s definition of poverty as the proportion of the population whose income is below 50% of the median income. Apart from the Czech Republic and Finland, poverty in the rest of the EU was higher. But in 2009, the proportion of poor people in Denmark had risen to 7.1%. In just 8 years, poverty in Denmark had risen by almost 80%. Only surpassed by Latvia. The main engine for increasing poverty was the VKO government’s so-called tax halt,
The gap between rich and poor was further accelerated by the VKO government’s crisis packages in 2010. The country’s 10% richest earned on the tax cuts. They received an annual net surplus of 10,000 kroner, while the 10% poorest had to collect a net loss of 2,000 kroner. The histogram below seems to show that the 20% richest benefited from the VKO government’s redistribution from poor to rich, but due to the savings in public service, only the richest 10% received a net proceeds.
And the bias became even greater when moving into the richest 10%. The richest 1% of the population got a net profit of as much as 45,000 kroner – mainly because of the tax cuts.
The VKO government’s crisis policy further promoted the crisis trends in the Danish economy. While the German economy grew 1.9% in Q4 2010 and Q1 2011, and grew 2.4% in Sweden, it declined 0.7% in Denmark. Denmark was thus sent into recession as one of the few countries in the OECD. International economists estimated that the decline in the Danish economy was due to the government’s severe cuts in the public sector. In Q1 2011 alone, public investment fell by 20% year-on-year, and public consumption fell by 0.8% overall.
A study conducted by Eurostat showed that Denmark was one of the EU countries where inequality increased most rapidly during the period 2006-10. While the gap between the 10% richest and the 10% poorest in most EU countries narrowed during the period, it grew by 1.1% in Denmark – surpassed only by the Czech Republic, Germany and Malta. The VKO government’s tax cuts for the richest and the shaving of social benefits were documented here.