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Deputy-Ombudsman to investigate discriminatory service housing charges

Deputy-Ombudsman Maija Sakslin has responded to a complaint relating to service housing charges. The question at hand was whether the care allowance should be taken into account. The Deputy-Ombudsman found no evidence of law-breaking in the case. Pursuant to the Finnish Act on Client Charges in Healthcare and Social Welfare, a care allowance counts as income and can therefore be taken into account in the calculation of service housing charges. 

In this case, however, it transpired that a joint authority had been charging for its intensive service housing services in a manner that could put clients at risk of endangering their subsistence and not being able to afford the services that they need. 

Equal opportunities of service housing clients

There is no law on service housing charges. Local authorities and joint authorities are free to choose what they charge for their intensive service housing services.

Local authorities’ inconsistent policies and guidelines on calculating charges can create inequality among intensive service housing clients. 

Action taken 

Deputy-Ombudsman Sakslin decided to investigate whether the way in which intensive service housing charges are calculated respects the rights and equal opportunities of clients. 

The Parliamentary Ombudsman of Finland is responsible for ensuring that the authorities comply with the law and do not overstep their powers. The Parliamentary Ombudsman does not have the authority to overrule the authorities’ decisions or insist on revisions, but the institution can issue opinions to emphasise the importance of upholding fundamental rights in the exercise of public authority and the legislative process.

The full text of Deputy Ombudsman Maija Sakslin’s decision No 2475/2019 is available in Finnish on the Parliamentary Ombudsman’s website at www.oikeusasiamies.fi.

For more information, please contact Senior Legal Adviser Päivi Vainio on +358 (0)9 432 3376.