Helsinki invests in children and young people, allocates more to prevent segregation

Mayor Juhana Vartiainen’s 2024 budget proposal for the City of Helsinki has been completed, after negotiations with the political parties represented on the City Board. In both its 2024 budget and the 2025–26 economic planning period, the city continues its commitment to responsible financial management. The 2024 budget proposal combines this fiscal responsibility with investments in key services and personnel in a bold and balanced manner. Additional resources have been allocated to prevent segregation and invest in daycares and schools, for example. The proposal also calls for a lower municipal tax rate for Helsinki residents.
The City of Helsinki’s budget proposal for 2024 focuses on enhancing services for children and young people.
The City of Helsinki’s budget proposal for 2024 focuses on enhancing services for children and young people. Photo: Maija Astikainen

The City of Helsinki’s 2024 budget proposal prioritises children’s and young people’s services, segregation prevention and improving the availability of personnel. Among other things, the proposal suggests more investment in the city’s Education Division than seen in previous years, with the aim to strengthen basic instructional activities and prevent a rise in student-teacher ratios. The total Education Division allocation proposed for 2024 is approximately  EUR 1.5 billion, a EUR 91 million increase on the previous year. Expanded resources will be directed towards strengthening work to combat segregation and enhancing the network of special needs teachers and school coaches through need-based funding. In addition, more efforts will be devoted to strengthening the city’s ability to attract and retain early childhood education professionals.

In next year’s budget proposal, additional allocations will be made in the Culture and Leisure Division to  standardise and expand school youth work, maintain sports facilities and preserve the Culture Kids programme activities. The total allocation for this administrative division of the city in the budget proposal is EUR 302 million, meaning an increase of EUR 16 million on the previous year.

The proposal also seeks to allocate one billion euros to the Urban Environment Division. The goal of segregation prevention is also reflected in this funding proposal, as investments in suburban regeneration areas will be increased on previous years. There will also be a larger allocation for maintenance work, which will ensure that the city has adequate resources for the winter maintenance of pedestrian pathways, for example.

Seven million euros will be allocated to the City Board’s operational fund to implement the 2024 salary development programme. In addition, the proposal calls for an increase in the travel benefit offered by the City of Helsinki to its employees, which will raise the benefit to EUR 300 per employee (2023 benefit level EUR 240). The culture and sports benefit will also be continued and each employee will be given a culture and sports voucher worth EUR 200.

Helsinki’s population is expanding at a record pace and this requires sizable investments in the functionality of the growing city and new premises to accommodate the increasing need for services. Investments in growth and service development will cause a rise in operating expenses when compared to previous years. For this reason, a 6.7 per cent increase on the 2023 budget is being proposed for 2024. At the same time, it is uncertain whether there will be corresponding growth in tax revenue in the coming years due to the financial changes brought about by the social and health services reform and an unstable international economy.

Helsinki invests record amount in growth of city

The City of Helsinki’s 2024 investments will create the conditions for the production of housing and business premises, the sustainable development of the urban structure, and the advancement of the attractiveness of the city centre and the city’s regional hubs. Equitable development of different areas of the city will be supported by investing in the suburban regeneration areas and diverse housing production. The level of cycling investments will also rise. The city’s 2024 investment level is 1.042 billion, a clear increase from the last few years.

The City of Helsinki also looks after its residents’ safety and long-term preparedness. That is why the city will work to strengthen its network of civil shelters and accelerate the schedule for investing in their development.

The city's loan portfolio is estimated to be EUR 1.2 billion in 2024. Compared to 2023, the loan portfolio will therefore increase by around EUR 200 million.

Emphasis on continued status of primary health care

After the recent nationwide reform of social and health services, the City of Helsinki’s budget proposal preparations have been altered so that the current city operations are now divided in the budget proposal into two entities: the Municipality of Helsinki and the state-funded Social Services, Healthcare and Rescue Division. Funding of the latter division is composed from general funding received from the Finnish State, as well as income from customer fees and other operating income.

When it comes to the city’s social and health services, the budget proposal aims to improve the continuity of care in primary health care and mental health services and to ensure that the statutory obligations set for Helsinki are fulfilled under the new administrative arrangements. At the same time, the city will invest in preventive activities in the sector.

According to the budget proposal, the City of Helsinki’s total expenditure level for social, health and rescue operations will be EUR 2.891 billion in 2024, an increase of EUR 123.5 million compared to the 2023 budget level.

City Council to decide on 2024 budget in November

The Helsinki City Council will discuss the 2024 budget proposal on Monday, November 6. The council will make its final decision on approval of the budget proposal in November.