Denmark’s ministry of employment has estimated that as many as 23,000 Danes will lose their unemployment benefits before the summer.
The figures come less than two weeks after major changes to the Scandinavian country’s so-called ‘dagpenge’ unemployment system went into force. The ministry had previously estimated that only 7,000 and 12,000 workers would lose benefits, but those figures nearly doubled on Monday.
Under the new rules, the length of time dagpenge benefits can be claimed for was cut in half to only two years.
The Finance and Employment Ministries official report read, “The increased number reflects the fact that fewer people left the dagpenge system in the autumn compared with earlier,” the Copenhagen Post reported on Friday.
In response to the changes, some ministers are urging Copenhagen to take further steps to ensure that there is minimal impact on the affected unemployed workers.
Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen, an MP from the leftist Enhedslisten party, told the media, “The new figures show that the government has to wake up. When the right-wing together with [Radikale leader] Margrethe Vestager reduced the length of dagpenge from four years to two years, their main argument was that the unemployed would find work on their own as soon as they lost their benefits,” the Ritzau news agency reports.
The government introduced a job-creation programme to combat the move, although officials have admitted that the scheme – which aimed to create some 12,000 jobs – is moving much slower than hoped.