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Payments of reception allowance made faster after delays

Publication date 29.4.2022 15.00 | Published in English on 5.5.2022 at 14.18

There have been some delays in the payment of reception allowance to those granted temporary protection. The services of reception centres have become congested with more than 20,000 new customers in the system over the course of two months. The payment of reception allowances will now become faster.

“This is an extremely unfortunate situation for the customers who have fled the war. Even though the situation is explained by the rapid growth of the customer base, some of the delays in the payment of reception allowances have been too long and the customers have not received enough information,” says Pekka Nuutinen, Director of the Reception Unit. 

Those granted temporary protection receive the services from their assigned reception centre. The reception services include a reception allowance. The purpose of the reception allowance is to cover the customer’s basic needs and the amount is affected by the customer’s income and assets.  

The Finnish Immigration Service has investigated the extent of the issues. Some reception centres have not experienced any problems with the payment of reception allowances. In some reception centres, however, there have been considerable delays. Usually, applications for reception allowance are processed within the time limits specified in legislation, in other words within seven weekdays of submitting the application. However, some customers have had to wait several weeks for their payments. 

“We have now identified the sources of the issue and we’re accelerating the payments. If the reception allowance has been delayed, it will be paid retroactively as of the date of applying for temporary protection,” explains Nuutinen. 

The reception allowance can be paid to a prepaid card of the Finnish Immigration Service, to a Finnish bank account or in cash. The customer applies for the reception allowance and for a prepaid card from their assigned reception centre. 

Delays particularly frequent in the payments of those staying in private accommodation 

In addition to the large number of customers, the issue has also been affected by the large number of people staying in private accommodation. The practical arrangements of setting up new centres also take time. Moreover, there have been some delays in the delivery of prepaid cards and in opening accounts for the customers, which is why some customers have had to receive their reception allowance in cash. The cash payments have also caused delays. Prepaid cards will become more extensively available to new customers in June. 

“We’ve worked on these challenges in cooperation with the reception centres and provided more instructions. We’ve also accelerated our procedures as much as possible,” says Nuutinen. 

Customers staying in private accommodation in particular have experienced delays. About 70% of those who have applied for temporary protection are staying in private accommodation. In other words, they have personally arranged their accommodation. They may be staying with relatives, friends or volunteers.  

“Customers staying in private accommodation may be harder to reach than those living in reception centres. Their accommodation may be quite far from the nearest centre, which may also have impacted the arrangements for substitutive food aid,” says Nuutinen.  

Your reception centre will secure your basic needs, even if there are delays in payments 

If there are delays in the processing of an application or the payment of the reception allowance, the reception centre has an obligation to secure the customer’s basic needs in other ways.  

“Reception centres are responsible for ensuring that the customers’ basic needs are met, even if there are challenges in paying the reception allowance. In practice, this may mean providing vouchers for groceries or promissory notes for prescription medication from the pharmacy,” says Nuutinen. 

The reception centre assigned to those granted temporary protection is usually their nearest reception centre or a service point for those staying in private accommodation. The customer receives the contact information of their assigned reception centre when applying for temporary protection. It is important that the applicant for temporary protection checks in at their assigned reception centre. 

If the person granted temporary protection has problems with livelihood or well-being, for example, they are advised to immediately contact their assigned reception centre. The reception centres also offer assistance in the evenings and on the weekends, if necessary.

At the moment, there are 55 reception centres and service points for those staying in private accommodation as well as seven units for minors operating in Finland. Before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, there were 20 reception centres in Finland. The number of units for minors has remained unchanged. The Finnish Immigration Service is responsible for the management, planning and monitoring of the reception system. The reception centres of the Finnish Immigration Service are located in Helsinki, Lappeenranta (Joutseno) and Oulu. The other reception centres are managed by organisations, municipalities and businesses. 

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