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Helsinki Social Welfare Department applied act incorrectly

A severely handicapped person's opportunity to take part in day activities could have been jeopardized

Deputy-Ombudsman Maija Sakslin has criticized the City of Helsinki's Social Welfare Department for its practice of basing its decisions to grant transport assistance to severely handicapped persons to enable them to participate in day activities on the Social Welfare Act rather than the Services and Assistance for the Disabled Act. This practice can endanger realization of a severely handicapped person's rights.

A client's need for transport services should always be decided on individually and transport must be granted to a client under the provisions of the Act that is most favorable, the Deputy-Ombudsman emphasizes in her decision.

The City of Helsinki charges persons who participate in day activities €2.50 for the transport service, but if the service for the trips was to be granted under the provisions of the Services and Assistance for the Disabled Act, the client would have to pay €2.20.

The complaint was made by the director in charge of the Finnish CP Association's day activities programme, who took the view that the charges could become unreasonable for a client who wanted to attend day activities more often than once a week.

It had emerged also on an inspection visit to a day activities centre in Hämeenlinna by the Ombudsman last autumn that the price charged for transport could become an obstacle to participating in activities.

Solutions should be individual

The Deputy-Ombudsman also finds the City of Helsinki decision, which was appended to the complaint, to be defective, because it did not state the amount of the client fee nor the basis on which it had been determined. This violates the client's right to demand a correction.

Transport arranged on the basis of the Services and Assistance for the Disabled Act are a municipalitys duty, which the client's financial situation or insufficient appropriations do not influence.  In addition, decisions made by virtue of the Act can be appealed all the way up to the Supreme Administrative Court. What is a fair client fee is likewise assessed differently on the basis of different Acts.

Day activities for the severely handicapped are intended for persons whose capabilities do not make it possible for them to work. Its purpose is to support independent coping and promote social interaction. 

Additional info will be provided by Legal Adviser Minna Verronen, tel. + 358 (0)9 432 3394.