Political organisations get lion’s share of state subsidies
By Peppiina Ahokas
State grants granted to political youth organisation have increased more over the years than those to other youth organisations.
Support by the Ministry of Education and Culture to all youth groups has increased by 30 per cent in 2004 – 2012, while subsidies for politically affiliated organisations group by 47 per cent. At the same time membership in the largest political youth groups has been declining noticeably.
In addition to overall support for youth organisations, Helsingin Sanomat investigated what information youth groups who get state aid give the ministry about their own activities.
Organisations of three different types were taken under examination. The largest were the Finnish Scouts, the politically and religiously non-aligned support organisation of the Prometheus Camp organisation [which organises secular equivalents of Lutheran confirmation camps for Finnish teenagers], and the youth organisation of the National Coalition Party.
The Prometheus Camps’ support association spends most of its money on its youth activities – camps and the training of counsellors.
In 2010 the association, which organised a total of 67 Prometheus camps, had a budget of EUR 464,553. State grants accounted for EUR 82,000 of the budget. Direct expenses from the camps totalled EUR 178,599, and counsellor training cost EUR 76,013.
The youth organisation of the National Coalition Party spends a large chunk of its money on administrative and office costs. In 2010 it received a state grant of EUR 398,032. Administrative and office costs amounted to EUR 346,303. Training and events for members were classified as “miscellaneous costs” – EUR 60,936.
The Scouts and the Prometheus Camps’ support association get much of their income from participation fees for camps and other events.
Under the law, state aid for youth organisations is granted on the basis of results. These include the nature and scope of the activities, and good economic management.
Also taken into consideration is the current societal significance of the activities, and the need for assistance. Factors considered in evaluating the need for assistance include how active the group in question is and how well its goals are achieved.
In 2010 the Prometheus Camps’ support association and the youth organisation of the National Coalition Party had budget surpluses – EUR 16,873 for the former and EUR 147,228 for the latter. The Scouts, with EUR 6,158,515 in expenses, ran a deficit of nearly half a million euros.
Decisions on the allocation of state funding for youth organisations are made by the Minister of Culture, based on recommendations by an evaluation and aid committee for youth groups. The committee is a political group, which is appointed by the government for the entire electoral term.
The money comes from revenue from the state-run national lottery organisation Veikkaus.
This year, Minister of Culture and Sport Paavo Arhinmäki (Left Alliance) granted EUR 11,727,000 in assistance to national youth groups and service organisations for youth work. The money is intended for use in EUR 2012. A total of 69 organisations were granted the aid.
Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 28.5.2012
Previously in HS International Edition:
Former SDP youth leader says party youth groups overstate membership (11.5.2012)
Financial surplus of National Coalition Party youth organisation raises questions (10.5.2012)
Privacy or transparency? The dilemma of state grants to political youth organisations (14.5.2012)
PEPPIINA AHOKAS / Helsingin Sanomat