Solberg’s party wants to remove cash benefits for parents who don’t use kindergartens

Erna SolbergPhoto: Terje Pedersen / NTB

During the weekend, the Conservative Party’s (H) national assembly defied Erna Solberg. They decided to remove cash benefits for parents of children between the ages of one and two who do not use or who only partially use state-funded kindergartens. 

Instead of cash support, the Conservatives now want a “waiting support” for parents who are in line for a kindergarten place. This became evident after a relatively even vote at the national assembly on Sunday.

The case created a lively debate among the delegates before the vote. In the end, a majority of 184 delegates voted to remove the cash benefit, while a minority of 145 voted to keep the cash benefit.

Among those who have argued for retaining the cash benefit is Prime Minister and party leader Erna Solberg.

She admitted defeat but at the same time kept the door open for a compromise with the Christian Democrats.

“Removing the cash benefit is not high on our priority list,” Solberg told NTB.

Maturation process

Linda Hofstad Helleland and Henrik Asheim, who have led the work on the Conservative Party’s new party program, also belonged to the minority. Helleland believes there has been a maturation process in the party.

“We have had this debate at very many national assemblies now, and the minority has grown bigger and bigger every year. Now the Conservatives are apparently mature enough to say ‘no’ to the cash benefit as we know it,” she told NTB.

Instead, the Conservatives are in favor of securing the right to a kindergarten place from when the child turns one year old. Those who do not get a place should be able to receive waiting support while standing in line.

Split party leadership

Deputy party leader Tina Bru said that she separated from party leader Erna Solberg and deputy leader colleague Jan Tore Sanner in the vote.

“It is not because I am a very strong principled opponent of cash benefits. I understand well those in the party who argue that this is about freedom of choice for families,” Bru told NTB.

“But we are at a time now where we will have to prioritize harder,” she said.

Bru believes that the cash benefit has several unfortunate effects. Women are kept out of the workforce, and children from immigrant families are kept out of kindergarten. At the same time, there are limits to what the state should pay for:

“I do not think it is right to pay people not to use a welfare offer.”

Christian Democrats strike back

Christian Democrats (KRF) leader Kjell Ingolf Ropstad, on the other hand, defends the cash benefit.

“It is surprising that the Conservatives want to remove it,” Ropstad said. He warned that the Christian Democrats will now fight to keep the scheme in place.

According to him, it is first and foremost about giving families freedom of choice when the children are young.

“It is not just about giving families money while they wait for kindergarten. It is about allowing families to choose how to organize their lives in this toddler phase,” Ropstad stated.

Source: © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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