Sweden Prepares for New Social Services Act

In an effort to meet contemporary societal challenges with effective measures and efficient resource allocation, the Swedish government is proposing significant investments in the 2024 budget proposition to reform the Social Services Act and the social services sector.

Long-Term Transformation: The primary objective is to shift the focus of social services toward prevention and early intervention. This includes initiatives such as introducing new open activities and low-threshold services. Moreover, it involves expanding outreach efforts and enhancing collaboration with other authorities like schools and the police, as well as civil society organizations.

Financial Commitment: To facilitate this transformation, the government has proposed a substantial investment plan. It includes a competence and staffing initiative of SEK 200 million for 2024, SEK 1.2 billion for 2025, and SEK 2.2 billion annually for 2026–2028.

Collaboration with Municipalities: For the years 2024–2028, the government is also suggesting an agreement with the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (Sveriges Kommuner och Regioner) for SEK 20 million annually to support municipalities in their transition efforts.

Evidence-Based Approach: Ensuring social services operate on the basis of the best available knowledge is essential. To achieve this, strengthening national-level statistics within social services is proposed. An investigator is tasked with proposing comprehensive regulations for social services data registries by July 1, 2024. Additionally, the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) is assigned to analyze the conditions and needs of municipalities before introducing a social services data registry law, with results expected by April 19, 2024. An annual budget allocation of SEK 50 million is earmarked for this purpose.

Addressing Modern Challenges: The current Social Services Act, primarily rooted in the 1980s, needs updating to address contemporary challenges such as housing shortages, segregation, insecurity in vulnerable areas, countering recruitment into criminal gangs, preventing violence against women, and ensuring the safety and security of children. There is also an aim to strengthen public trust in social services, which has been eroded by misinformation alleging child abductions by Swedish social services.

Simultaneously, social services must respond to the needs of a growing elderly population with complex requirements, necessitating increased collaboration with healthcare services. For instance, the number of people with dementia is expected to rise, requiring more support for their caregivers. Furthermore, support for individuals with disabilities and their families, who often require various forms of assistance throughout their lives, is a pressing concern.

The government plans to present these proposals to the Swedish Parliament in the 2024 budget proposition, based on an agreement between the government and the Sweden Democrats.