Slight increase in social assistance
Social conditions, welfare and crime;Public sector;Immigration and immigrants
soshjelpk, Social assistance, social assistance recipients, social assistance, qualification programme, assistant status, social services, duration of support, support cases, type of support (allowance, loan), personnel in the social services (for example social workers, child welfare officers, office employees), operating costsKOSTRA , Social security and benefits , Social conditions, welfare and crime, Social conditions, welfare and crime, Public sector, Immigration and immigrants

Social assistance2003



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Slight increase in social assistance

In 2003, the 135 380 social assistance recipients - including benefits to refugees and immigrants - received a total of NOK 5 billion in assistance, almost NOK 7 300 per month per recipient. The average benefit time for all recipients was five months - approximately the same level as in 2002.

The law regarding benefits to recently arrived refugees and immigrants was introduced as a voluntary arrangement for the local authorities on 1 September 2003. As a result, the questionnaire for social assistance was altered in order to include recipients of this new type of benefit. As the benefit was introduced late in the year and many local authorities had not changed their reporting system it is not possible to distinguish between recipients of ordinary social assistance and recipients of the new benefit, and as a result comparisons with previous years are uncertain.

The main picture is stable

The 135 380 social assistance recipients (including benefits to refugees and immigrants) in 2003, received NOK 5 billion, or almost NOK 7 300 per month. This is an increase of 6 per cent from 2002. The average payment per year was NOK 37 000 and the average recipient was on benefit for five months - approximately on level with 2002.

Although the number of social assistance recipients increased last year, their share of the population was approximately the same as in 2002, at 5 per cent. Many recipients of social assistance have children and a spouse. If we include these, approximately 222 900 people received social assistance for a shorter or longer period in 2003.

The age pattern among social assistance recipients has not changed much in the past years, and the largest group of recipients are aged 30-39 years. Although this is the largest group among social assistance recipients, the highest share of the population is found in the age group 20-24 years.

Finnmark has the highest portion

For several years Finnmark county has had the highest number of social assistance cases in relation to the population. This is also the case in 2003, as Finnmark has 47 cases per 1 000 inhabitants. Akershus county, on the other hand, has the lowest number of social assistance cases in relation to the population, with 23 cases per 1 000 inhabitants.

The percentage of social assistance cases increases with population size. On average, municipalities with more than 50 000 inhabitants have 36 cases per 1 000 inhabitants, while the corresponding figure for municipalities with less than 5 000 inhabitants is 29.

Social services staff

At year-end 2003, 4 965 job positions were registered in social services. This only includes positions related to traditional social services tasks such as advice, consultations, preventive work and work related to substance abusers. If we include positions related to job creation programmes the figure increases to 5 640.

Almost half of the employees in social services were professional staff. 52 per cent of the positions were filled by social workers, child welfare officers or nurses for the mentally subnormal.

Large differences still exist between counties, but the average ratio of employees per 1 000 adults (aged 18 and above) was 1.4 full-time equivalents per 1 000 adults in 2003. With respect to the ratio of employees in social services Oslo has the best coverage, with 2.4 full-time equivalents per 1 000 adults. Møre og Romsdal and Nord-Trøndelag have the lowest staffing, with 0.9 full-time equivalents per 1 000 adults.