4.6 Access to quality services
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The Icelandic government has taken initiatives in an effort to increase the availability of more affordable housing. In 2016 the government issued that it was to make funds available for endowment capital in order to establish more affordable, secure housing for low-income individuals and families. The government intends to make available 2.300 affordable rent apartments between the years 2016 and 2019, including 500 – 600 this year by allocating 1.500 million ISK in the national budget in addition to endowment capital from The Housing Financing Fund.
The Icelandic parliament ratified in 2016 Act No. 75/2016 regarding housing benefits which will take effect January 1st, 2017. Housing benefits are set to replace rent benefits and responsibilities for payment of these benefits will be removed from local authorities to state authorities. The housing benefits are set to reduce the costs of rent for lower-income individuals and families.
No top-level policy measures exist on social services applying specifically to young people. Young people are, however, entitled to public social assistance and services, although the nature of such assistance may vary according to age.
According to the Social Assistance Act, No. 99/2007, everyone, including young people, is entitled to a single parent’s allowance if they are a single parent supporting a child under the age of 18 and are residents in Iceland.
The Social Insurance Admission may pay child pension to young people aged 18-20 in connection with school studies or vocational training if both of the person’s parents are deceased, and also if one or both of the parents receive a pension for retirement or incapacity. In such cases, the Social Insurance Admission shall assess proof of school attendance or vocational training.
Young people, as do everyone in the same position, have access to home care allowance if they are supporting disabled or chronically ill children who live at home or in a hospital, amounting to up to 96,978 ISK per month. Under special circumstances, this payment may be raised by up to 25%.
All persons who become widows or widowers before reaching the age of 67 may be paid a grant of 27,429 ISK per month for six months following the death of a spouse. If the person in question is supporting a child under the age of 18, or in other special circumstances, he/she can receive a benefit of 20,565 ISK per month for a further 12 months, but never longer than 48 months.
No documents were found which suggest that this issue has been addressed specifically.
No top-level policy measures exist on financial services specifically for young people exists. Young people are, however, eligible for public financial services which might help prevent social exclusion, such as unemployment benefits and student loans.
There are various organizations, both governmental and non-governmental responsible for assuring that these services are up to standards. The Icelandic Consumer Centre safeguard consumers’ rights and provide assistance if needed. Their services apply to various methods of consumption, including rent and other social services. The Icelandic Consumers’ Centre collaborates with the European Consumers’ Centre. The Directorate of Health is responsible i.a. for monitoring health care providers in Iceland and ensuring that their services are up to the highest standards.
Care Quality Inspectorate for Social Services and Child Protection is an agency under the auspices of the Ministry of Social Affairs which commenced operations in May 2018. Initially, the Inspectorate's responsibilities will include administrative tasks and monitoring of social services provided by municipalities, by public bodies, or on a contract basis, as well as supervision of specific aspects of child protection.
In 2021, the Icelandic Parliament (i: Althing), passed a bill of law intended to ensure coordination and integrated operation of all leisure and services a child or a young person (under the age of 18) might seek. The legislation includes many service sectors such as education (primary and secondary schools), health (physical and mental health institutions), police, social services, and child protection services, to name a few, both on the municipal and national level. The main aim of this legislation is to increase the quality of service to children and young people by facilitating sharing of information between institutions in different sectors. Additionally, each family of a child or young person will be appointed a qualified liaison who provides information on services available, ensures that the child receives the service(s) it needs, and monitors the progress of the service. Although the bill does not mention social inclusion per se. the overall objective is to increase the long-term well-being of children and young people. Many aspects of this bill promote social inclusion by increasing the quality of service.