LONDON (CNNMoney) — Finland is considering scrapping all welfare benefits and paying everyone $10,000 a year instead.
The Finnish government, elected earlier this year, is planning to introduce a tax-free monthly payment of 800 euros ($865) to all adult Finns, regardless of income, wealth or employment status. The payment would replace most other state benefits.
The government thinks that the move will actually save money. Finland’s welfare system is very complex and expensive to run, and the government hopes that simplifying it could reduce costly bureaucracy.
It also argues that the change may encourage more people to look for work. About 9.5% of Finns are currently out of work — the highest rate in more than a decade — and the government believes some people are deterred from working because they’re better off on unemployment benefit than accepting a minimum wage job.
The center-right coalition government, which was elected earlier this year, is planning to finalize the proposal in 2016 and run a pilot program in 2017.
The agency in charge of welfare and national social security is currently designing the program. A trial period could see it make payments of 550 euros a month, while still offering some additional benefits such as housing support.
The government commissioned an opinion poll in September, which found that 69% of Finns agree with the plan. It has not published estimates of the costs, and did not reply to CNNMoney’s request for comment.
Assuming every adult gets the payment, the program could cost between 40 billion and 50 billion euros ($54 billion) a year.
The richest would pay most of their share back in taxes, the government said. According to Finnish media, labor unions are opposed to the plan.