Municipal Elections 2021 – SDP’s Election Manifesto


LET’S TAKE CARE OF THE MUNICIPALITY. THE MUNICIPALITY TAKES CARE OF US.

 

Decisions regarding a functioning daily life are made in the municipality. A safe daily life consists of various pieces: reasonable housing expenses in a safe environment, a local day care centre, and well-functioning transport. A safe daily life means that people can see a doctor if necessary, and that care is available without waiting lists. Education and work must be available, and everyone should be able to have a say in the direction of their life and the society as well as to manage in life without restrictions from their language skills or other characteristics. Humanity and trust bring hope for the future.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has shown that a strong welfare state is the best protection also in crises to come. We in the Social Democratic Party want to make sure that help and support is available for everyone when needed. The most important services and support for a good and safe daily life are in municipalities, so let’s take good care of them.

In the coming years, municipalities in Finland will be reformed. As the social welfare and health care reform is implemented, equality increases and, at the same time, the role of municipalities will change. SDP wants to be there to build municipalities that are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable. We strive for municipalities that are economically stable, harmonious and safe communities that take care of their environment.

Politics is about values but also about the ability to work on matters of common interest. SDP has the know-how to run things in Finnish municipalities – in agreement, working together. Let’s take care of the municipalities, as the municipalities take care of us.

 

Download our Election Manifesto here (PDF) or read it below.


 

THE BEST HOME MUNICIPALITY FOR FAMILIES

 

More support for families 

The well-being of every family is important to SDP. Enough help must be available for families during the busiest years in their daily life and in solving various problems they may face raising their children. Local schools and day care centres are key components of a safe and functioning life for families with children. Group sizes in both day care and schools must be kept small enough and the number of staff high enough for all children and young people to get the best possible early childhood education and education. In addition to care and support, assistance from specialists in education, health care, and social services must be available directly in the day care centre or school, if necessary. Investments must be made in staff competence.

Child health clinics are a Finnish innovation. The resources of child health clinics must be secured and their service range expanded to support families throughout childhood and adolescence. There must be enough check-ups so that families get the right kind of support at the right time. Families need support in their everyday life, and thus the safety net supporting them must be complete. The availability of home service for families with children must be increased so that assistance needs are detect in time and can be responded to.

 

Safe childhood and adolescence

Training and education are at the core of the municipalities of the future. We can prosper only through enhancing our knowledge and skills. We want to create a 12-year learning path for all young people. That is why the current government is making general upper secondary school and vocational education truly free and guaranteeing every young person at least an upper secondary qualification. To implement this, individual learning paths and flexible education and training are needed.

Schools and day care centres must be safe and healthy environments both for pupils and staff. Problems with indoor air quality are solved through investments in renovation as well as building maintenance and cleaning.

We want to make sure that the number of staff in early childhood education and schools is high enough for all children and adolescents to get the support they need. The prevention of bullying and timely interventions must be a high priority in schools. An operational programme against bullying must be drawn up in every municipality. The preconditions for multidisciplinary anchor work that connects the police, youth work, social services, and homes must be secured. Also the conditions for low-threshold mental health services and youth work carried out by municipalities and organizations must be ensured.

The Youth Guarantee makes sure that every young person has a job or a place to study. All who want one must be given the opportunity for a summer job. SDP wants that, in the future, municipalities invest more in youth work, preventive services and, in particular, outreach youth work and low-threshold mental health services for young people. Not a single young person must become incapacitated for work for mental health reasons because no help was available. Because of the COVID-19 epidemic, there are less summer jobs available for young people than before. SDP proposes that municipalities increase their own number of summer jobs. This facilitates young people’s entry into employment.

 

Affordable housing 

Effective land use planning in municipalities is a prerequisite for the construction of affordable homes. We want more quality homes along public transport routes, particularly in cities. Good public transport makes it possible to get around even without a private car. Keeping energy costs at a reasonable level is an important part of affordable housing.

Renovating built-up areas and suburbs and, in places, complementary building are a big, joint project for the coming years to make neighbourhoods more attractive across Finland. Segregation of and inequalities between residential areas must be prevented. A key means in the prevention of the segregation of residential areas is to narrow social disparities. Investments must also be made in the development of suburbs, enhancing services, and everyday safety.

Moreover, municipalities need preparation and land use planning that promotes accessibility, which will create an environment for well-being and people coming together.

 

WELL-BEING FOR ALL AGES

 

Care and support without waiting lists

We are reforming social welfare and health care services so that everyone can get treatment faster, low-threshold services work better, and equality and linguistic rights are established. In making the reform, we put people first, not structures.

To reach the objectives of the reform, also service contents must be reformed, not only structures. In future, we will invest in early stage services and strengthen the availability of basic-level services. Everyone must get the help they need with one contact instead of several stops. To support this, the government is providing a treatment time guarantee for non-urgent care.

Client charges must not prevent anyone from receiving care. The reform of the act on client charges and broadening the payment ceiling, which will enter into force this summer, will help many people.

As the social welfare and health care reform is implemented, investments must be made in the availability of mental health services and services for substance abusers, and the care, rehabilitation, and service deficit that has accrued during the COVID-19 epidemic must be reduced.

Procurement expertise in municipalities must be improved. Particularly in social services, procurements must always be based on individual needs of clients.

 

Let’s carry everyone along

Everyone has the right to a good and safe everyday life. SDP wants to make sure that everyone can age in dignity. SDP’s long-standing goal for a higher nurse-to-patient ratio is an important step toward better quality in services for the elderly. Next, the adequacy of home care and services that maintain the functional capacity of the elderly must be ensured. Investments in rehabilitation and services delivered at home improve quality of life and provide security also for the next of kin.

Informal caregivers do significant work for our society, and thus their work must be supported more. The criteria for informal care must be harmonised across the country, the level of support must be adjusted, and sufficient resources must be allocated for it. Informal care must not lead to services being cut; instead, services must effectively support informal care.

The rights and inclusion of people with disabilities must be genuinely protected. Whether it is about school trips, recreational activities, employment, or accessible public spaces, municipalities must be able to guarantee a functioning everyday life and participation in society for disabled people.

Over 45 percent of households in Finland are one-person households. Particularly young and elderly people often live alone. The needs of people living alone must be taken into account in services, land use planning, and the actions of municipalities. In social welfare and health care services, know-how about the life situations of those living alone must be improved through training. In connection with the social security reform, also the status of those living alone must be improved.

 

Sport, culture, and hobbies are for everyone

Sport and culture services promote people’s well-being. SDP wants that culture is accessible for all irrespective of the place of residence, income level, physical qualities, or language skills. Local sports sites must be accessible.

Libraries are centres for knowledge and culture. In future, libraries must be developed ever more as meeting places for communities and centres for lifelong learning. Communal working spaces, training in information retrieval and management, and media literacy education will be among libraries’ services alongside traditional lending. Library services must be easily available and libraries open when people have the opportunity to visit them. SDP stands for libraries being free of charge.

Hobbies increase well-being and decrease the risk of social exclusion. All children and adolescents will be guaranteed the chance to have a hobby through a hobby guarantee. At the same time, hobbies will be more and more integrated into the school day. Reforming before and after school activities also simplifies the daily life of families. Sports clubs, art and culture operators, and other youth work organizations must be closely involved in the implementation of the hobby guarantee. 

 

SUSTAINABLE GROWTH, EMPLOYMENT, AND INCLUSION

 

A sustainable municipal economy creates the conditions for employment and vitality

 The vitality of municipalities rises from work and entrepreneurship. Generating the conditions for new jobs and investments both in rural areas and cities is the most important task for municipalities. SDP wants that municipalities pursue growth that is sustainable economically as well as socially and environmentally.

Municipalities are important partners for business and major factors in increasing the vitality of the entire country. Smooth and predictable decision-making, active cooperation, and smooth land use planning contribute to the success of businesses. We promote swifter permit granting processes in municipalities.

In public procurement, employment, quality, and environmental aspects must be pursued in addition to supporting innovations and the regional economy. There must be a close dialogue with local businesses, organizations, and service users in order to achieve the objectives set for public procurements. By including local businesses and organizations better into municipal service production, the municipality also supports their growth and innovations. High-quality educational institutions contribute to ensuring that skilled workforce is available for businesses across Finland.

Taxation, services, and investments must be on a level that is sustainable also in the long run. For example power grids and other indispensable services must be organized so that private investors cannot unpredictably increase their prices for municipal residents. Also, adequate investments in the maintenance of basic infrastructure must be guaranteed. Municipal investments are important for employment and the operating conditions for businesses in the region. Municipalities must be active, for example, in financing energy investments, as Finland moves to a fossil-free economy. Now is also a good time to make growth-generating investments in infrastructure, roads, railways and high-speed digital networks throughout Finland. The regional availability of state services and the multi-locality of work supports living across the country.

Successful businesses increase municipal tax revenues. Municipalities’ right to levy taxes and adequate state funding guarantee that municipalities can develop their services independently. SDP sees that state transfers must ensure municipalities’ operational conditions. In exceptional situations, the state must also secure the funding for municipal basic services, as has been done during the COVID-19 epidemic.

Currently, the municipal tax base is, in many municipalities, narrow, as the size of the working age population has declined. Also tax evasion and income tax deductions reduce the tax base. Income tax deductions are needed to ensure that low-income earners are taxed lightly. SDP considers it important that no increases are made in the taxation of low-income earners. However, the narrowing tax base has weakened the possibilities of many municipalities to independently develop their operations and make investments with tax-based financing. That is why the tax base of municipalities should be developed to be fairer so that all municipalities could truly influence their financing.

 

Through services, not coercion, is how jobs are found

SDP believes in people and everyone’s desire to participate in society. We want to support people in their job-search, not punish them for being unemployed. That is why we revoked the Activation Model implemented by the previous government. In employment, we want to invest in individual support, education, and services. In promoting employment and ensuring the availability of skilled workforce, municipalities’ local education and skills services, guidance centres for young people, as well as local knowledge of and relationships with enterprises are important. That is why municipalities must be given a stronger role in employment services. We promote this through local government trials on employment.

 

Municipalities are key in climate solutions

 Finland’s goal is to be carbon neutral in 2035, and many municipalities have more ambitious targets. We will reach these goals together and by working together. Determined reforms in energy production, transport, community building, and circular economy promote environmentally sustainable growth and employment. Municipalities must move away from oil heating in the properties they own. Also converting residential heating systems to non-fossil-fuel solutions must be supported. Municipal energy companies play a key role in seeking sustainable solutions in heating and energy production.

In developing mobility and transport, investments must be made in public transport, cycling, walking, and other modes of transportation that reduce the climate impact. Residential areas must be planned so that daily services, hobbies, and work places are accessible by public, pedestrian and bicycle traffic. The availability and functioning of public transport must be seen to in the entire country, also outside of large urban regions.

Streets, parks, and other public spaces being clean and pleasant are factors that have a significant effect on the comfort and attractiveness of living environments. Municipalities must take care of the environment, also the built one.

 

Chances to have a say in the everyday life

Municipal residents have the right to participate in the development of their home municipality and the preparation of decisions that impact their living environment. Concrete actions must be taken to ensure this right of municipal residents to have a say. Promotion of municipal residents’ broad inclusion benefits everyone.

The local resident’s initiative must be developed further. The initiatives should come to the municipal council to be debated: thus the voice of municipal residents would be heard better. Participatory budgeting and other actions to improve residents being consulted and more involved must be implemented more widely.

People must be included in decision-making at various stages. The role of youth councils, municipal councils on disability, and elderly citizens councils in bringing everyone along is important. Tens of thousands of organizations are significant partners for municipalities, channels of influence, daily communities, and sources of peer support. Organizations must be better included in the development of municipalities, and municipalities must ensure the operational conditions of organizations by, for example, giving grants and providing facilities.

SDP wants to build sustainable municipalities where decision-making is constructive and democratic. Municipalities are reliable partners for both their residents and businesses. User panels should be used more often to develop services. Thus the opinions and proposals for improvements of municipal residents can be better taken into account. New ways of involving municipal residents produce valuable information to support municipalities in developing their services.

 

Let’s take care of the municipality. The municipality takes care of us.

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