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Local government financial equalisation Information about the equalisation system for Swedish municipalities and county councils in 2008


Local government financial equalisation Information about the equalisation system for Swedish municipalities and county councils in 2008


2 Local government financial equalisation 2008

Ministry of Finance Department for Public Administration Local Government Finance Division SE-103 33 Stockholm Tel +46 8 405 10 00 www.sweden.gov.se Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions SE-118 82 Stockholm Visitors Hornsgatan 20 Tel +46 8 452 70 00 Fax 08-452 70 50 info@skl.se, www.skl.se

Š Ministry of Finance and the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions 1st edition, September 2008 Text and calculations Henrik Berggren, Andreas Hermansson Graphic design and production Elisabet Jonsson Cover photo Satellitdata, Metria, Š www.worldsat.ca Printed by Ljungbergs Tryckeri ab, Klippan Paper Truecard 1 gloss 220 gr (cover), Maxioffset 120 gr (insert) Fonts BerlingNova och Charlotte Sans skl isbn 978-91-7164-380-3


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Foreword This brochure provides an overview of the equalisation system and the changes made since 2005, when the present system was introduced. Some comparisons are made between the present system and the system in operation before 2005. The present system is based on the proposal that the Government presented to the Riksdag (Swedish Parliament) in May 2004. The Riksdag approved the proposal in October 2004. The Government addressed some later proposals for changes in the 2007 Spring Fiscal Policy Bill. The Riksdag approved the alterations to the system in June 2007. Some further references are given on page 35. We hope that this brochure will help to increase understanding of the equalisation system and spread knowledge about its purpose, structure and function so that further discussion of the system can build on at least a general awareness of it. Local government financial equalisation is an update of an earlier report. The revisions have been made by Henrik Berggren at the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions and Andreas Hermansson at the Ministry of Finance. Stockholm, June 2008 Dan Johansson Local Government Finance Division Department for Public Administration Ministry of Finance

Maj-Lis Ă…kerlund Section for Economic Analysis Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions


4 Local government financial equalisation 2008

Contents The equalisation system in brief 5 Why equalisation? 8 The present system of local government financial equalisation 10

Tax equalisation is a long-established practice 10 Changes as of 2008 10 Income equalisation 10 Cost equalisation 16 Structural grant 24 Transitional grant 26 Adjustment grant and adjustment charge 27 Overall outcome 28 Other cost equalisation systems 29 Investigation and follow-up of the system 30 Appendices 31

Previous equalisation systems 31 Groups of municipalities 33 Parts of the country 34 References 35 Glossary 38


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The equalisation system in brief On 1 January 2005 the present system of local government financial equalisation came into operation. It has the same purpose as the previous system: to put all municipalities and county councils in Sweden on an equal financial footing to deliver equal levels of services to their residents, irrespective of the income of local authority residents and other structural factors. The intention is for differences in local taxes to largely reflect differences in efficiency and in levels of services and charges and not to be due to differences in structural conditions. The equalisation system can be divided up into five separate parts: income equalisation, cost equalisaThe system consists of five separate parts: tion, a structural grant, a transitional grant and an adjustment grant/charge. • income equalisation Income equalisation results in an equalisation of tax • cost equalisation income (cf. page 8) between municipalities and • a structural grant between county councils. The income equalisation • a transitional grant grant is calculated on the basis of the difference • an adjustment between the local authority’s own taxable income grant/charge and a tax equalisation base that corresponds to 115 per cent of the national average tax capacity for municipalities and 110 per cent for county councils. Municipalities and county councils whose taxable income exceeds these levels have to pay an income equalisation charge to the Government instead. One fundamental difference between the system in operation up until 2004 and the present system is that horizontal income equalisation between local authorities now consists of an equalisation grant mainly financed by the Government. Thus, the general government appropriation for municipalities and county councils was terminated when the new system came into force in 2005. Cost equalisation evens out differences in structural costs. They can be of two kinds. One is that the need for local authority services varies; for example, municipalities with many older residents have a greater need of elderly care. The other is that the cost of producing a particular service varies; for example, schools can cost more in sparsely populated municipalities as teaching there may have to be given in smaller classes and the pupils more often need school transport.


6 Local government financial equalisation 2008

Municipalities and county councils with an unfavourable cost structure receive a grant from the Government. Local authorities that have a favourable structure pay a charge to the Government instead. Cost equalisation is neutral in terms of central government finances as the total grants and charges are equal in size and therefore cancel one another out. The main features of the previous system of cost equalisation have been retained, but the system has been simplified by removing some parts of it. A new feature in 2008 is that cost equalisation now also takes account of structural differences in wages that affect the cost of operating in different parts of the country. The parts of pre-2005 cost equalisation that had to do with regional policy are now included in the present system as a structural grant alongside cost equalisation. Structural grant is not paid to all municipalities and county councils but is only paid to the local authorities that previously received supplements in certain models used to calculate grant and/or experienced major revenue decreases as a result of the change of system in 2005. When the system came into operation in 2005, the revenue of many municipalities and county councils changed. A special transitional grant is payable during the period 2005–2010 to moderate the redistributional effects for the local authorities whose revenue decreases. This grant spreads the revenue loss due to the system over several years. An adjustment grant and an adjustment charge are used to ensure that the government grant is not affected by the level set in income equalisation and to ensure at the same time that the Government has control over the total cost of the equalisation system. This grant and charge are also used for financial adjustments between central government and the local government sector, for example when the local government financing principle is used to compensate municipalities and county councils for increased costs due to new duties imposed on them by central government. Figure 1 outlines the flow of the transfers between the Government and the municipalities and between the Government and the county councils.


The equalisation system in brief 7

Figure 1 • Local government financial equalisation 2008

Municipalities & county councils

Cost equalisation charge SEK 6.6 bn

Cost equalisation grant SEK 6.6 bn

Structural & transitional grant SEK 2.7 bn

Income equalisation grant SEK 68.9 bn

Income equalisation charge SEK 5.7 bn

Government

Adjustment grant county councils: SEK 0.9 bn Adjustment charge municipalities: SEK 4.2 bn

Government contribution SEK 62.5 bn

The Swedish Tax Agency collects local government taxes; it then administers the various grants and charges when it pays on local tax revenue. The Agency adjusts this tax revenue for any grants and charges. Table 1 shows the total of the grants and charges included in the new system of local government financial equalisation and the total volume of the system in 2008. Table 1 • Local government financial equalisation Calculations for 2008, SEK billion Municipalities County councils

Total

Income equalisation grant Income equalisation charge Cost equalisation grant Cost equalisation charge Structural grant Transitional grant Total Adjustment grant/charge

52.0 –3.7 5.2 –5.2 1.5 0.3 50.1 –4.2

16.9 –2.1 1.4 –1.4 0.7 0.2 15.7 0.9

68.9 –5.7 6.6 –6.6 2.2 0.5 65.8 –3.3

Sum total

45.9

16.6

62.5

Source: Statistics Sweden.


8 Local government financial equalisation 2008

Why equalisation? In Sweden public expenditure accounts for a high share of gdp and the scale of decentralisation of tasks to municipalities and county councils is very substantial in international terms. Because municipalities and county councils account for the bulk of our welfare services, such as schools, health care and various forms of social care, local government expenditure makes up a higher share of gdp than in any other country. At the same time, circumstances vary greatly between local authorities in different parts of the country, as do the conditions for fulfilling these tasks. On average some 70 percent of municipal and county council costs for services are financed by local income tax. Only a small proportion (17 per cent on average in 2006) consists of central government grant. But local authorities differ in their ability to meet their tasks because there are major differences in taxable income per inhabitant (tax capacity) between municipalities and between county councils. This is primarily true of municipalities and is due not only to differences in inhabitants’ earned income but also to differences in employment levels and in the age structure of their population. In 2008 the municipality in Sweden with highest tax capacity is Danderyd; its tax capacity is 177 per cent of the national average tax capacity, corresponding to an average taxable earned income of almost sek 310,600 for inhabitants. The municipality with lowest tax capacity is Årjäng; its tax capacity is 78 per cent of average tax capacity (sek 136,900 per inhabitant). Without an equalisation of tax capacity, the inhabitants of Årjäng Municipality would need to pay over 27 per cent of their income in municipal tax while people living in Danderyd would only need to pay 12 per cent in municipal tax to give the two municipalities the same tax revenue per inhabitant as the national average. As regards county councils, the inhabitants of Årjäng in Värmland County would need to pay over 12 per cent of their income in county council tax, while people living in Stockholm County would only need to pay just over 9 per cent to give the two county councils the same tax revenue per inhabitant. This difference in municipal and county council tax between residents of Årjäng and Danderyd would be almost 17 per cent of income,


Why equalisation? 9

i.e. a tax difference of almost sek 28,000 per year, for a middle income earner in Årjäng compared with a person on the same income in Danderyd. In addition, on account of differences in the need for municipal services, partly due to differences in population age structure, the cost differences between municipalities can be considerable. The cost of elderly care in Hübo Municipality, which has the lowest proportion of older people in the country, has been calculated in cost equalisation as some sek 3,200 per municipal inhabitant. In Dorotea Municipality, which has a very high proportion of older people, this cost has been calculated as almost sek 17,300 per municipal inhabitant. This difference corresponds to almost 9 per cent of municipal tax, based on the national average tax base per inhabitant. Without equalisation, a sparsely populated municipality with many elderly people in need of care would have difficulty providing elderly care unless it levied a very high municipal tax. In Sweden there has long been broad political consensus about the idea that people should have equal access to welfare, no matter where in Sweden they live. These two examples point to the need for financial equalisation both for tax income and for differences in structural costs in order to put municipalities and county councils on an equal financial footing for the conduct of their activities.


10 Local government financial equalisation 2008

The present system of local government financial equalisation Tax equalisation is a long-established practice For most of the 20th century municipalities and county councils received some form of government grant in order to even out the differences in their financial situation. The system that ended in 2005 had been in place since 1996. But even before 1996 there had long been systems intended to equalise financial conditions between municipalities and between county councils. An overview of earlier equalisation systems is given on pages 31–32.

Changes as of 2008 The equalisation system that came into force in 2005 has been reviewed, and some of the changes presented in the inquiry report Partial review of local government financial equalisation have been put into effect. As of 2008 cost equalisation for both municipalities and county councils includes a model that is intended to provide compensation for extra costs arising because wages are higher in certain parts of the country. For the municipalities, the settlement structure model has been altered so as to better reflect regional differences in municipalities’ building costs. For the county councils, the supporting material for the health and medical care model has been updated to better reflect actual health care costs.

Income equalisation Under income equalisation the Government finances the bulk of the equalisation of income between local authorities. Before 2005 municipalities and county councils received a general government grant. When this grant was abolished, an income equalisation grant was introduced instead. It is based on the difference between the taxable income of local authorities and a tax equalisation base that corresponds to 115 per cent of the national average tax capacity for municipalities and 110 per cent for county councils. Municipalities and county coun-


The present system of local government financial equalisation 11

cils whose taxable income exceeds these levels have to pay an income equalisation charge to the Government instead. For municipalities entitled to grant, the grant is calculated on the basis of 95 per cent of the national average tax rate in 2003 and for county councils entitled to grant, the calculation is based on 90 per cent of national average tax rate in the same year. For municipalities and county councils that are liable to pay a charge, the charge is based on 85 per cent of average tax rate instead. When tax rates are set in the calculation of grants and charges, account has also to be taken of differences in tax shifts between municipalities and county councils in each county as a result of changes of responsibilities from 1991. One such tax shift was when the municipalities took over responsibility for services and health care for older people and persons with disabilities from the county councils in the early 1990s. The changes of responsibilities that took place in the 1990s involved municipalities taking over responsibility from county councils for several services. Changes of responsibility can also occur in the opposite direction. This has been regulated financially through tax shifts that have resulted in municipalities increasing their taxes and county councils making corresponding cuts in taxes. As tax shifts have taken place at different levels in different counties, this must be taken into account in the calculation. So the existing differences in county-level tax rates depend on the extent to which municipalities have taken over services from county councils and not on what tax rates the municipalities in the county have chosen. In income equalisation for 2008, 11 municipalities and one county council have to pay an income equalisation charge. The Government finances a large part of the income equalisation grant. Part of the central government funds used for this purpose come from the former general grant to local government and former specific grants. The charge is used to part-finance equalisation. The charge for the local authorities that pay into the present system is lower than in the system that was in force until 2005. This is for two reasons: first, the county-level tax rate used to calculate the charge has been reduced to 85 per cent and, second, the charge is only calculated on the part of the tax base that exceeds 115 per cent and 110 per cent of tax capacity respectively, compared with 100 per cent in the previous equalisation system.


12 Local government financial equalisation 2008

Figure 2 • Income equalisation for municipalities in 2008, outline diagram Tax capacity, %

115 Municipalities 1–290

100

Income equalisation grant SEK 52 bn

Income equalisation charge SEK 3.7 bn

Government

Calculation of the income equalisation grant or income equalisation charge Equalisation takes place by comparing the taxable income of each municipality and county council with the taxable income per inhabitant in the country multiplied by 1.15 for municipalities and 1.10 for county councils, which is called the tax equalisation base. Local authorities that have lower tax capacity than the tax equalisation base receive a positive base for the equalisation grant (see table 2), while local authorities that have higher tax capacity than the tax equalisation base receive a negative base for the equalisation charge (see table 3). The part of the tax capacity that is above or below the tax equalisation base is multiplied by the number of inhabitants in the municipality or county council. That figure is then multiplied by what is called the county-level tax rate. Table 2 uses an arithmetical example for Svedala Municipality to illustrate how the income equalisation grant for a municipality entitled to grant is calculated for 2008. For Svedala Municipality the county-level tax rate (row I) is calculated as 95 per cent of the average tax rate in the country in 2003, also taking account of the fact that Skåne County has a tax shift that is 0.09 percentage points above the national level (4.16). Table 3 uses an arithmetical example for Vellinge Municipality to illustrate how the income equalisation charge (i.e. negative grant,) for a municipality liable to pay a charge is calculated for 2008. For Vellinge Municipality the county-level tax rate (row I) is calculated as 85 per cent of the average tax rate in the country in 2003, also taking account of the fact that Skåne County has a tax shift that is 0.09 percentage points above the national level (4.16).


The present system of local government financial equalisation 13

Figure 3 • Income equalisation 2008 SEK per inhabitant

Municipalities

County councils

9,132 to 13,257 (92)

2,630 to 4,048 (7)

6,861 to 9,132 (95)

2,321 to 2,630 (6)

0 to 6,861 (92)

0 to 2,321 (7)

–18,174 to

–1,014 to

0 (11)

Greater Göteborg

0 (1)

Greater Stockholm

Greater Malmö

Source: Statistics Sweden.

Table 2 • Calculation of income equalisation grant for Svedala Municipality 2008 A B C D E F G H I

Adjusted tax base for the municipality in 2008, sek 3,299,754,888 Municipal population, 1 November 2007 19,104 172,726 Adjusted tax base for Svedala, sek/inhabitant, A/B 175,415 Adjusted national average tax capacity, sek/inhabitant Municipal tax capacity, proportion of average tax capacity, %, C/D 98.5 Percentage for tax equalisation base, whole country, % 115 3,853,797,384 Municipality’s tax equalisation base, sek, B*D*F 554,042,496 Base for equalisation grant, sek, G–A County-level tax rate, 95 per cent * national average (20.64)+0.09 (4.25–4.16), adjusted for differences in tax shifts 19.70 J Municipality’s income equalisation grant, sek/inhabitant, H*I/B/100 5,713 109,141,152 K Municipality’s income equalisation grant, sek, J*B


14 Local government financial equalisation 2008

Table 3 • Calculation of income equalisation charge for Vellinge Municipality 2008 6,854,276,541 Adjusted tax base for the municipality in 2008, sek Municipal population, 1 November 2007 32,575 210,415 Adjusted tax base for Vellinge, sek per inhabitant, A/B 175,415 Adjusted national average tax capacity, sek/inhabitant Municipal tax capacity, proportion of average tax capacity, %, C/D 120.0 Percentage for tax equalisation base, whole country, % 115 6,571,265,169 Municipality’s tax equalisation base, sek, B*D*F 283,011,372 Base for equalisation grant, sek, G–A County-level tax rate, 85 per cent * national average 2003 adjusted for differences in tax shifts 17.63 J Municipality’s income equalisation charge, sek/inhabitant, H*I/B/100 –1,532 –49,904,900 K Municipality’s income equalisation charge, sek, J*B A B C D E F G H I

Tax increases and reductions do not affect the grant or charge Because the county-level tax rates are locked at the 2003 level, municipalities and county councils cannot influence their grants or charges in income equalisation by altering their own tax rate. So changes in a local authority’s own tax rate only result in an increase or decrease in the local authority’s own tax revenue. In combination with a high level of compensation, the fact that the county-level tax rate is independent of the tax rate in a particular municipality or county council can result in negative marginal effects. Municipalities and county councils whose own tax rate is lower than the county-level tax rate experience a reduction of their overall income when their own tax base increases. This is one of the reasons why the county-level tax rate for municipalities and county councils liable to pay a charge is only 85 per cent.

Which local authorities get grants and which local authorities pay? The main charge-payers are suburban municipalities in Stockholm County. Stockholm Municipality is the only one of the three metropolitan municipalities to pay a charge. Sparsely populated municipalities and the groups of other small municipalities (see page 33) receive the largest grants per inhabitant. In income equalisation for county councils only Stockholm County Council pays a charge in 2008. County councils in the rest of the country receive a grant.

Equalisation level The equalisation level, i.e. the municipality’s own tax revenue including equalisation set in relation to the national average, is between


The present system of local government financial equalisation 15

Figure 4 • Outcome of income equalisation for municipalities in 2008 SEK/inhabitant per municipality group*, weighted average Grant

Charge

Net

12,000

SEK per inhabitant

10,000 8,000 6,000 4,000 2,000 0

Other < 12,500 inhab.

Other 12,500– 25,000 inhab.

Other > 25,000 inhab.

Manufacturing municipalities

Sparsely pop. municipalities

Commuter municipalities

Large cities

Suburban municipalities

Metropolitan municipalities

–2,000

*According to the classification of the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions. See page 33 for how the municipality groups are defined. Source: Statistics Sweden.

Figure 5 • Outcome of income equalisation for county councils in 2008 SEK/inhabitant per part of the country group*, weighted average Grant

Charge

Net

2,500

SEK per inhabitant

2,000 1,500 1,000 500 0 –500

–1,000 –1,500

Stockholm County

Eastern Sweden Southern Sweden excl. Stockholm County

Northern Sweden

*According to Statistics Sweden’s classification. See page 34 for which county councils are included in each part of the country. Source: Statistics Sweden.

113 and 115 per cent for municipalities whose own tax capacity is below the guaranteed level. For municipalities whose own tax capacity is above the guaranteed level, the level of equalisation is between 115


16 Local government financial equalisation 2008

Table 4 • Equalisation level in 2008 Municipality

Tax TaxIncome Taxes incl. In relation capacity, revenue, equalisation, equalisation, to the % SEK/inhab. SEK/inhab. SEK/inhab. country

Municipality A 82.2 Municipality B 90.7 Municipality C 101.5 Municipality D 105.5 Municipality E 120.0

29,873 32,942 36,855 38,341 43,576

11,323 8,404 4,682 3,268 –1,532

41,196 41,346 41,537 41,609 42,044

113.4 113.8 114.3 114.5 115.7

per cent and 124 per cent. The broader spread of equalisation levels for municipalities above the guaranteed level is due to the lower compensation level (85 per cent). Table 4 illustrates equalisation for five municipalities with different levels of tax capacity. The difference between the municipalities’ tax revenue before equalisation is more than sek 14,000 per inhabitant. After equalisation the difference is about sek 1,000 per inhabitant. So this is a very far-reaching equalisation of municipalities’ income. The calculation assumes that all municipalities have the same tax rate and that the distribution of responsibilities between the municipalities and the county council in each county is similar to the distribution for the country as a whole. This means that the actual equalisation level will be different because municipalities have chosen a tax rate that differs from the average tax rate. This is an effect of the fact that the system is not intended to equalise differences in tax rates. In addition, municipalities in a county that have taken over a more than average amount of services from the county council receive more revenue.

Cost equalisation Cost equalisation equalises for costs that the local authority cannot itself influence. Measurable and objective factors are used to calculate a structural measure of the differences in conditions and needs. One basic principle is to only equalise for structural differences that can arise in services that are mandatory for municipalities and county councils. In addition, cost equalisation is only to apply to differences in costs and needs in local authority services and not to differences in inhabitants’ private consumption, such as high housing costs. Cost equalisation is designed according to the same principles in both the municipal and the county council sector. The method is called the standard cost method. It means that cost equalisation is built


The present system of local government financial equalisation 17

Figure 6 â&#x20AC;˘ Cost equalisation for municipalities in 2008, outline diagram Cost equalisation charge SEK 5.2 bn

Grant/charge

Government Unfavourable structure Cost equalisation charge SEK 5.2 bn

Average

Municipalities 1â&#x20AC;&#x201C;290

Favourable structure

up of a number of separate models. The various models refer to services like childcare or elderly care. The service-based structure of cost equalisation has both advantages and disadvantages. By treating each area separately it is possible to capture the very different conditions that apply to different services. It is also possible to adjust cost equalisation when the services change. The main disadvantage is that this equalisation is extensive with a large number of factors and models. But, on the other hand, a simpler system risks missing certain structural costs, resulting in a less fair system. So the design of cost equalisation is a trade-off between simplicity and fairness. For municipalities nine services are included in equalisation, while for county councils three activities are included â&#x20AC;&#x201C; health and medical care, wage structure and compensation for revenue slippage in the event of population increase. There is also one service with shared responsibility, namely public transport. Differences in standard costs are intended to reflect differences in structural costs, i.e. costs that municipalities and county councils cannot themselves control. The different services and variables in each model are set out in Table 6 on page 19.

What does cost equalisation cover? As mentioned above, cost equalisation covers age structure, ethnicity, socioeconomic conditions and geography, as well as extra structural costs for wages as of 2008. The model for each service uses factors that explain the extra structural costs associated with that particular service. Table 5 shows the categories of extra costs for which the system provides compensation in each model.


18 Local government financial equalisation 2008

Table 5 • Extra structural costs by category Service

Municipalities Pre-school services and out-of-school care Compuls. school & pre-school classes Upper secondary school Elderly care Individual & family care Children with foreign background Population change Settlement structure Wage structure County councils Health and medical care Population change Wage structure

Age

EthniSocioGeocity economic graphy conditions

• •

• •

• •

(•) (•) (•)

• •

Joint service Public transport

Note.: (•) means that age is included as a factor but that it is not the primary objective of equalisation in that particular model. The wage structure models are not included in any of the categories specified.

Services included in cost equalisation The standard cost in the various models is obtained by multiplying the various variables by the national average cost for each service. For example, the standard cost for compulsory school is obtained by multiplying the proportion of children of school age by the national average cost per pupil and by multiplying the proportion of pupils born outside Sweden, Norway and Denmark by the average cost for mother tongue instruction. Moreover, extra costs are calculated for small schools and school transport. Cost equalisation does not and is not intended to take account of the actual costs of municipalities or county councils. The standard cost is the cost that the municipality or county council would have if it ran the service at an average cost level, taking account of its own structural factors under cost equalisation. The use of the national average cost means that equalisation is carried out to the average service level, quality, charge level and efficiency. If a municipality or


The present system of local government financial equalisation 19

Table 6 • Models in cost equalisation for municipalities and county councils Service or equivalent

Structural factors

Municipalities Pre-school services & out-of-school care

Age structure, parents’ activity rate, tax capacity and population density

Compulsory school & pre-school classes Upper secondary school

Age structure, children w foreign backgr, sparsely pop areas Age structure, programme choice, settlement structure

Elderly care

Age structure, sex distribution, occup. background, civil status, non-Nordic background and sparsely pop. area

Individual & family care

Refugees born abroad and close relatives, other people born abroad from countries outside the Nordic region and the eu, unemployed people without benefit, single women with children, proportion of men with low incomes and settlement density • Children of lone parents, young people prosecuted, children with a foreign background and municipal population •

Children w foreign background Children aged 0–19 years with foreign background Population change

Population decrease > 2% in the past 10 years Change (positive and negative) in the number of school pupils • Compensation for revenue slippage in event of population increase • •

Settlement structure

Heating (energy index) Streets and roads (climate and road wear) • Building costs (wage costs index for building workers and climate) • Extra costs for administration, travel and rescue services specific to sparsely populated areas • •

Wage structure

Average wage in neighbouring municipalities Average price for single-family homes • Activity rate • •

County councils Health and medical care

Care-demanding groups, sex, age, civil status, employment status, income, housing type and wage structure, supplement for sparsely populated areas

Population change

• Compensation for revenue slippage in event of population increase

Wage structure

• •

Joint service Public transport

Private sector wage in county Actual doctors’ pay

Sparseness, work commuting and urban structure.


20 Local government financial equalisation 2008

county council has higher costs because it provides a higher than average service level, this must be financed through higher taxes, more efficient services or a higher level of charge-financing. In the case of lower costs, the opposite is true. No local authority is “punished” or “favoured” because it has a cost level that differs from the average cost level.

Calculation of grant or charge in cost equalisation The total of the standard costs for all the models is called the municipality’s or county council’s structural cost. If the structural cost is higher than the national average, the municipality or county council receives a grant corresponding to the difference to the average. The municipality or county council is regarded as having an unfavourable structure in relation to other municipalities or county councils. If the structural cost is below the national average, the municipality or county council is regarded as having a favourable structure in relation to other municipalities or county councils and therefore pays a charge in the corresponding way. Tables 7 and 8 show the highest and lowest structural costs in grant year 2008. Table 7 • Highest and lowest structural cost and grant/charge for grant year 2008 SEK/inhabitant, municipalities Average Grant/charge Max. grant/charge 40,506 Min. grant/charge 26,192 Average

30,097

10,409 –3,905 0

Source: Statistics Sweden.

Table 8 • Highest and lowest structural cost and grant/charge for grant year 2008 SEK/inhabitant, county councils Average Grant/charge Max. grant/charge 18,619 Min. grant/charge 16,672 Average

17,693

Source: Statistics Sweden.

926 –1,021 0

Do more children, young people and elderly result in more money? It is important to observe that grants or charges in the various models in cost equalisation depend on the municipality’s or county council’s relative structure in relation to the country as a whole, i.e. the difference between its own structure and the national average. This means that it is not certain that a municipality in which the number of young people is increasing will receive more money in cost equalisation. Let us use an example to illustrate this. Suppose that a municipality has a higher proportion of young people aged 7–15 years than the national average. The municipality is there-


The present system of local government financial equalisation 21

fore deemed to have an unfavourable structure in cost terms and, as a result, it receives a supplement in the model for compulsory school. If, over time, the proportion of young people in the municipality increases as much as in the country as a whole, the difference will remain unchanged. So the supplement for compulsory school will not be altered. In this case, the municipalityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cost increase is deemed to be the same as for the country as a whole. The fact that a municipality gets more children, young people and older people does not guarantee the municipality a higher grant in the way that the former specific grants did. Cost equalisation is an equalisation system, not a grant system. The important thing in terms of equalisation is how much the municipalityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s age structure deviates from the national average age structure. So there is no direct link between the trend in the number of pupils or older people, for example, and central government grant to municipalities and county councils. Any additional funding for municipalities and county councils is provided when the Riksdag and the Government decide to increase the appropriation for municipalities and county councils in the central government budget. The result of this decision is seen as a change in an adjustment item (see page 27). If municipal or county council costs change because central government changes their duties, then compensation is provided through an adjustment in line with the local government financing principle.

Annual update of cost equalisation In order for cost equalisation to take account of conditions in the individual municipality or county council in each individual year, many of the factors on which this equalisation is based must be updated annually. For the municipalities this primarily applies to age structure and the factors that reflect the municipalityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s socio-economic structure. For the county councils it applies to the factors that govern the outcome of the model for health and medical care. It is perfectly natural for updates of certain models to lead to a variation in the outcome of cost equalisation for an individual municipality/county council from year to year. As both grants and charges vary from year to year, the sum that is redistributed also varies.

How much is redistributed? The size of the redistribution in the various models depends both on the cost of the service concerned and the size of the structural differences. Elderly care is the municipal service that costs most, and most


22 Local government financial equalisation 2008

Table 9 â&#x20AC;˘ Redistribution and number of grant and charge municipalities in the models used in cost equalisation in 2008 Model

sek million

Net total Children with foreign background Wages Population change Settlement structure Public transport Upper secondary school Compulsory (upper & secondary) school Childcare Individual and family care Elderly care

Number of municipalities w. supplement deduction

5,198 466 685 906 961 1,065 1,959

150 25 42 153 77 59 245

140 265 248 137 213 231 45

3,972 4,271 4,292 6,503

205 59 30 206

85 231 260 84

money is also redistributed in that model. Individual and family care costs less than half as much as elderly care. However, in this area there are major structural differences that push up the amount redistributed in the model. The sum total of the redistribution made in the various models exceeds the total redistribution in cost equalisation. This is because a municipality can receive a supplement in one model at the same time as the municipality has a deduction in another model. No municipality receives supplements in every model; however, a few municipalities have a deduction in every model. Each model is self-financed â&#x20AC;&#x201C; that is to say that the supplements and deductions cancel one another out.

Table 10 â&#x20AC;˘ Redistribution and number of grant and charge county councils in the models used in cost equalisation in 2008 Model

sek million

Net total Health care of which sparsely populated areas Population change Public transport Wages

1,360 1,399 487 0 1,356 207

Number of municipalities w. supplement deduction 6 11 13 0 1 3

15 10 8 0 20 18


The present system of local government financial equalisation 23

Which authorities pay and which authorities receive grants? Put simply, a redistribution takes place in cost equalisation from Southern and eastern Southern Sweden to the interior of Northern Sweden and the Stockholm region. In Northern Sweden the main recipients of major grants are sparsely populated municipalities and other small municipalities, while the large cities pay a charge to cost equalisation. In the Stockholm region, Stockholm Municipality and Figure 7 • Outcome of cost equalisation for municipalities in 2008 SEK/inhabitant per municipality group, weighted average Grant

Charge

Net

4,000

SEK per inhabitant

3,000 2,000

1,000

0

Other < 12,500 inhab.

Other 12,500– 25,000 inhab.

Other > 25,000 inhab.

Manufacturing municipalities

Sparsely pop. municipalities

Commuter municipalities

Large cities

Suburban municipalities

–2,000

Metropolitan municipalities

–1,000

Source: Statistics Sweden.

Figure 8 • Outcome of cost equalisation for county councils in 2008 SEK/inhabitant per part of the country group, weighted average Grant

Charge

Net

SEK per inhabitant

400

200

0

–200

–400

Stockholm County

Source: Statistics Sweden.

Eastern Sweden Southern Sweden excl. Stockholm County

Northern Sweden


24 Local government financial equalisation 2008

Figure 9 • Cost equalisation 2008 SEK/inhabitant

Municipalities

County councils 282 to 926 (3)

1,082 to 10,409 (80)

0 to 282 (3)

0 to 1,082 (70) –776 to

–363 to

0 (70)

–1,021 to –363 (7)

–3,905 to –776 (70)

Greater Göteborg

0 (8)

Greater Stockholm

Greater Malmö

Source: Statistics Sweden.

most suburban municipalities are grant recipients. In Southern Sweden it is mostly large cities and suburban municipalities that pay a charge. In some parts of eastern Southern Sweden there are municipalities that receive substantial grants. Among county councils the largest grants go to Stockholm and to certain county councils in Northern Sweden.*

Structural grant Structural grant consists of the parts of the previous equalisation system that have to do with regional policy and that are no longer to be included in cost equalisation. Structural grant has therefore been removed from cost equalisation and is intended to reinforce munici*Se Parts of the country, p. 34, for definitions of Southern, Eastern and Northern Sweden.


The present system of local government financial equalisation 25

palities and county councils with a small population and/or labour market problems. The grant is based on two factors. The first is the previous standard costs for business and employment promotion and for a weak population base (municipalities) as well as compensation to small county councils that were included in cost equalisation up to and including 2004. The second is compensation to municipalities and county councils whose revenue loss exceeded a set level due to changes in the equalisation system from 2005. Municipalities whose grant reduction exceeds 0.56 per cent of their own tax base receive a structural grant corresponding to the excess amount. The corresponding figure for county councils is 0.28 per cent. For municipalities and county councils with an average tax base per inhabitant this grant corresponds to some sek 850 and sek 425 per inhabitant respectively. Figure 10 shows the outcome of transitional grant and structural grant for a municipality whose revenue fell by the equivalent of 1 per cent of its own tax base on the introduction of the new system. Figure 10 â&#x20AC;˘ Non-temporary structural grant and declining transitional grant during the implementation period Structural

Transitional

Percentage of tax base

1.0

0.8

0.6

0.4

0.2

0.0

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

Source: Statistics Sweden.

Structural grant is paid to 94 municipalities and 6 county councils. The grant is paid annually without any predetermined time limit and mainly goes to municipalities in the sparsely populated counties in Northern and East central Sweden, but also to municipalities in other parts of the country with weak employment, including MalmĂś. The three northernmost county councils and three county councils in Southern Sweden, including Gotland Municipality, also receive a structural grant.


26 Local government financial equalisation 2008

Figure 11 • Structural grant 2008 SEK/inhabitant

Municipalities

County councils 502 to 1,426 (3)

451to 5,438 (47) 1 to

451 (47)

1 to 502 (3)

0 (196)

0 (14)

Greater Göteborg

Greater Stockholm

Greater Malmö

Source: Statistics Sweden.

Transitional grant The municipalities and county councils that lost out when the present system was introduced receive compensation in the form of a transitional grant over a period of up to six years (2005–2010). This gives municipalities and county councils with negative changes a certain amount of time to adjust their costs if the reduction exceeds a particular level. The grant means that the annual revenue reduction must not be larger than 0.08 per cent of their own tax base (or some sek 120 per inhabitant) for municipalities and 0.04 per cent for county councils (some sek 60 per inhabitant).


The present system of local government financial equalisation 27

Adjustment grant and adjustment charge In the government-financed income equalisation system, costs for the income equalisation grant increase in line with the growth of the local government tax base. So the Government cannot know in advance what the final total will be. In view of the need to be able to influence the macroeconomic scope for the local government sector and also central government finances, it is possible to influence the total grant budget for municipalities and county councils. There is also a need to be able to make financial adjustments for changes of responsibility between the local government sector and central government when the local government financing principle is applied. The way the adjustment item in the equalisation system works is that if the sum of all grants minus the charges paid in is less than the amount that the Government has decided to transfer to municipalities or county councils, then all municipalities or county councils receive an adjustment grant corresponding to the difference. The adjustment grant is paid as a uniform amount per inhabitant. If, instead, the sum of all grants minus the charges paid in is higher than the amount that central government has decided to transfer, then the difference has to be recovered through an adjustment charge from all municipalities and county councils, calculated in the same way as the adjustment grant. This enables the Riksdag to decide how much finance is to be allocated to municipalities and county councils. Table 11 â&#x20AC;˘ Calculation of the adjustment charge for 2008 SEK billion and SEK/inhabitant Municipalities

County councils

Amount of appropriation

45.9

16.6

Sum of grants minus charges Difference

50.1 â&#x20AC;&#x201C;4.2

15.7 0.9

â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 458

95

Adjustment charge/grant, sek per inhabitant Source: Statistics Sweden.

The total government grant budget for 2008 is sek 62.5 billion. For 2007 it amounted to sek 70.8 billion; but as a result of the introduction of a municipal real estate charge, the Government grant budget for 2008 has been reduced by sek 12 billion, which corresponds to the charge.


28 Local government financial equalisation 2008

Overall outcome The overall outcome of local government financial equalisation is shown in Figure 12 and Figure 13. We want to use these figures to illustrate, at a general level, the overall outcome of the local government finance systems in different parts of the country. The municipalities and county councils are therefore described together here. After these grants and charges, municipalities and county councils are on an equal financial footing to conduct their activities. A larger sum is redistributed between municipalities than between county councils. This is because the municipal sector accounts for a larger share of gdp. Despite relatively large differences in age structure, socio-economic conditions and geography, it is mainly the differences in the ability to levy tax that drive the major redistribution between different parts of the country. In cash terms Southern Sweden receives most, followed by Northern Sweden. The Stockholm region pays a net grant to the rest of the country. If the number of people in different parts of the country is taken into account, another picture emerges. Per inhabitant, Northern Sweden receives the largest supplement for both municipalities and county councils. For Southern Sweden and East central Sweden there is no significant change in the outcome, with a certain overweight for county councils in Southern Sweden. The Stockholm region is the only part of the country that pays a net charge in the equalisation system. Figure 12 â&#x20AC;˘ Overall outcome of local government financial equalisation, municipalities and county councils, by part of the country 2008, SEK billion Municipalities

County councils

Total

35 30

SEK billion

25 20 15 10 5 0 â&#x20AC;&#x201C;5

Stockholm county

Eastern Sweden Southern Sweden excl. Stockholm county

Source: Statistics Sweden.

Northern Sweden


The present system of local government financial equalisation 29

Figure 13 â&#x20AC;˘ Overall outcome of local government financial equalisation, municipalities and county councils, by part of the country 2008, SEK per inhabitant Municipalities

County councils

Total

12,000

SEK per inhabitant

10,000 8,000 6,000 4,000 2,000 0 â&#x20AC;&#x201C;2,000

Stockholm county

Eastern Sweden Southern Sweden excl. Stockholm county

Northern Sweden

Source: Statistics Sweden.

Other cost equalisation systems Support and Service for Persons with Certain Functional Impairments In 2004 a national cost equalisation system was introduced for municipalitiesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; costs under the Act concerning Support and Service for Persons with Certain Functional Impairments. The reasons given for an equalisation system were that there are major cost differences between municipalities and that equalisation is needed to put all municipalities on an equal financial footing to provide services under the Act. In 2008 the system has a volume of almost sek 2 billion. The system is kept separate from the regular cost equalisation system for municipalities. The reason is that the supporting information cannot be regarded as fulfilling the criterion of being outside the influence of the individual municipality in the same way as in the regular system. A standard cost is calculated for each municipality, just as in the regular system. This standard cost is based on the number of decisions executed for 10 different services under the Act, weighted by a national average cost per service. In addition, differences in care levels and economies of scale in provision are taken into account. Depending on how the standard cost calculated for a municipality differs from the national average standard cost, the municipality either receives a grant or pays a charge. In spring 2008 the Government presented a bill proposing certain changes in this equalisation system. One is that equalisation will no


30 Local government financial equalisation 2008

longer take account of any economies of scale. The changes are proposed to take effect from 2009.

Pharmaceuticals Since 1998 the county councils have had formal responsibility for paying for pharmaceutical benefits. However, the Government finances the main part of these costs through a special government grant. In 2008, this government grant amounts to sek 21.6 billion. There is no direct link between the prescription of pharmaceuticals and the grant paid by the Government. The government grant is allocated to individual county councils through a special model that is intended to reflect differences in needs and not actual consumption. Cost equalisation for pharmaceuticals is conducted in a special system completely separate from the regular equalisation system for county councils. The model is based on the consumption of pharmaceuticals by sex in different age groups, but account is also taken of socio-economic factors like income, housing, employment and civil status. In addition, separate compensation is provided for pharmaceuticals for certain diseases that are expensive and that are unevenly distributed among county councils. This applies to certain hereditary diseases and the incidence of hiv.

Investigation and follow-up of the system In 2005 an inquiry chair was appointed to continuously follow up the system of local government financial equalisation. The inquiry chair has submitted two interim reports on the inquiryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s remit, one in 2006 and one in 2007. The 2006 report proposed the establishment of a permanent organisation to follow up the equalisation system continuously. The Government has assigned this task to the Swedish Agency for Public Management. The Agency is to develop methods of following up local government financial equalisation and to continuously analyse and propose updates of the various models. The Agency will make an annual report to the Government on the results. The Government intends to appoint an all-party committee of inquiry whose remit will include evaluating and studying the system of local government financial equalisation, including the changes implemented in 2008. In addition, alternative methods of income equalisation with a longer-term perspective are to be studied. The committee will be appointed in 2008.


Appendices 31

Previous equalisation systems The 1966 tax equalisation system For most of the 20th century municipalities and county councils received some form of government grant in order to even out the differences in their financial situation. However, an equalisation system in the proper sense of the term was not introduced until 1966. The system consisted of two parts: income equalisation along with a separate equalisation grant for municipalities and county councils with high tax rates or a reduced grant for municipalities and county councils with low tax rates. There were a number of specific grants alongside the equalisation system. The main features of this system were to remain in force up until 1992, even though the system was modified on a number of occasions.

The 1993 reform of local government finance In 1993 extensive changes were made to the systems of central government grants to municipalities following proposals by the Local Government Finance Committee. The biggest change was that several specific government grants were replaced by a general grant, i.e. â&#x20AC;&#x153;all the money in one potâ&#x20AC;?. The new central government equalisation grant for municipalities consisted of three parts: income equalisation, cost equalisation and a supplement for municipalities with a large population decrease. However, criticism was directed at the cost equalisation component in particular and a new inquiry was therefore appointed to review it. An additional problem was that not all municipalities were included in income equalisation. Municipalities with a tax capacity that was higher than the guaranteed level fell outside the grant system. Therefore the government grant could not be used for general financial adjustments between central government and the municipalities. In the case of the county councils, only small changes were made in 1993.

1996 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a new government grant and equalisation system The 1996 government grant and equalisation system consisted of four parts: income equalisation, cost equalisation, a general government grant and transitional regulations. Unlike previous systems, all municipalities and county councils were now included. Equalisation was now also neutral in terms of central government finances, as both income and cost equalisation were financed by municipalities and county councils. Municipalities and county councils with a tax capacity below and/or structural costs above the average level received grants while


32 Local government financial equalisation 2008

other municipalities and county councils had to pay a charge. In principle the national total of the charges was equal to the total amount of the grants. Cost equalisation was designed according to the same principles in both the municipal and county council sectors. The method is called the standard cost method. It means that cost equalisation is built up of a number of models calculated using various factors. The various models refer either to specific services or to costs found in most services. Four government inquiries lay behind the 1996 system: the Structural Costs Inquiry, the County Council Finances Inquiry, Local Government Income Equalisation â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Alternative Models and the Central Government Grant Commission.

Reviews of the 1996 system From 2000 certain changes were made in the cost equalisation component of the system. These mainly affected childcare, individual and family social care and public transport. Moreover, a model was added to compensate the municipalities that have high costs in childcare, compulsory school and upper secondary school on account of a high proportion of children with a foreign background. For county councils, it involved changes for health and medical care. In various contexts experts had commented on the scale and complexity of the equalisation system. In 1999 the Expert Group for Simplified Local Government Equalisation was therefore tasked with examining various options to make the system simpler and more stable while fulfilling the fundamental intentions of the equalisation. The Expert Group proposed that the outcome of cost equalisation be presented in terms of three factors: an age factor, a social factor and a geographical factor. In addition, some models used in cost equalisation would be simplified and some would be removed from the equalisation system. The Expert Groupâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s proposals were not implemented, but several of them form part of the design of the system from 2005. The Delegation for Continued Development of the Equalisation System for Municipalities and County Councils examined certain specified parts of the equalisation system. In spring 2000 it presented an interim report with proposals for how to handle the negative marginal effects in income equalisation. In addition, a restructuring grant was proposed for county councils with a declining population, and the Delegation examined and updated the model for health and medical care.


Appendices 33

Groups of municipalities Metropolitan municipalities (3 municipalities)

Municipalities with a population in excess of 200,000 inhabitants. Suburban municipalities (38 municipalities)

Municipalities in which more than 50 per cent of the night-time population aged 16–64 years commute to work in some other municipality. The most common commuting destination has to be one of the metropolitan municipalities. Large cities (27 municipalities)

Municipalities with a population of 50,000–200,000 inhabitants and an urbanisation level of more than 70 per cent. Commuter municipalities (41 municipalities)

Municipalities in which more than 40 per cent of the night-time population aged 16–64 years commute to work in another. Sparsely populated municipalities (39 municipalities)

Municipalities with less than 7 inhabitants per km2 and less than 20,000 inhabitants. Manufacturing municipalities (40 municipalities)

Municipalities in which more than 40 per cent of the night-time population aged 16–64 years are employed in manufacturing and industrial activities (1992 Swedish Industrial Classification). Other municipalities, more than 25,000 inhabitants (34 municipalities)

Municipalities that do not belong to any of the above groups and have more than 25,000 inhabitants. Other municipalities, 12,500–25,000 inhabitants (37 municipalities)

Municipalities that do not belong to any of the above groups and have 12,500–25,000 inhabitants. Other municipalities, less than 12,500 inhabitants (31 municipalities)

Municipalities that do not belong to any of the above groups and have less than 12,500 inhabitants.


34 Local government financial equalisation 2008

Parts of the country Definition according to Statistics Sweden’s nuts regions: Part of country nuts 1

Region nuts 2

County nuts 3

Eastern Sweden

Stockholm East central Sweden

Stockholm County Södermanland County Uppsala County Västmanland County Örebro County Östergötland County

Southern Sweden

Småland with islands

Gotland County Jönköping County Kalmar County Kronoberg County Blekinge County Skåne County Halland County Västra Götaland County

Southern Sweden Western Sweden Northern Sweden

Central Norrland North central Sweden

Northern Norrland

Jämtland County Västernorrland County Dalarna County Gävleborg County Värmland County Norrbotten County Västerbotten County


Appendices 35

References A complete list of government inquiries, official reports, Government Bills, etc, and of special reports, information brochures and the relevant laws and government ordinances is provided in the Swedish 2008 edition of this report, Kommunalekonomisk utj채mning (isbn 978-91-7164-350-6).

Websites Government Offices www.sweden.gov.se/ Statistics Sweden www.scb.se/ Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions www.skl.se


36 Local government financial equalisation 2008

Glossary Adjusted tax base

Taxable income two years before the grant year adjusted upwards by the adjustment factor.

Adjustment factor The factor used to set the adjusted tax base and adjusted average tax capacity for a grant year. Average tax capacity Taxable income per inhabitant for the country as a whole. Compensation level Specifies what part of the difference between own tax capacity and guaranteed tax capacity that the equalisation system is to compensate for. County-level tax rate

The uniform tax rate used in the calculation of grants/ charges in income equalisation. Based on 95 per cent of the average tax rate for municipalities and 90 per cent for county councils in 2003. The difference between the tax shift made in each county and the national average tax shift in 2003 (4.16 per cent) has been added to this.

Equalisation level

The overall effect of income equalisation on a municipality’s/county council’s aggregate income from tax and its equalisation grant/charge.

Equalisation year

The year a grant or charge is to be received/paid.

Grant/charge

The outcome for a municipality/county council in cost or income equalisation.

Guarantee level

The guaranteed tax capacity expressed as a percentage of average tax capacity.

Own tax capacity

A municipality’s/county council’s taxable income divided by the number of inhabitants in the municipality/county council.

Standard cost

Theoretically calculated compensation for a particular service for a municipality or county council respectively. A standard cost in excess of the national average standard cost indicates that a municipality/county council has additional structural costs for the service concerned.

Structural cost

Sum of standard costs.

Supplement/ deduction

The outcome for a municipality/county council in any of the models included in cost equalisation.


Appendices 37

Tax base, own

A municipality’s/county council’s taxable income.

Tax equalisation base

Adjusted average tax capacity multiplied by the municipality’s/county council’s population and 115 or 110 per cent respectively.

Tax rate

The proportion of taxable income that inhabitants pay in tax to municipalities and county councils respectively. Also known as the tax levy.


38 Local government financial equalisation 2008


Municipalties and county councils provide the bulk of our welfare services. They are responsible for schools, health services and various social services. Local government expenditure therefore accounts for a higher share of gdp than in any other country. At the same time, circumstances vary greatly between municipalities, between county councils and between different parts of the country, as do the conditions for fulfilling these tasks. This means that there is a need for financial equalisation concerning both income and structural differences. The purpose is to put all municipalities and county councils on an equal footing for the conduct of their activities. The redistribution of resources through the equalisation system makes it possible to establish more equal conditions for the provision of welfare services. That is the background to the equalisation system. Local Government Financial Equalisation provides an overview of the system that came into force on 1 January 2005. This updated edition includes the changes introduced on 1 January 2008. Local Government Financial Equalisation can be ordered via phone +46 8 709 59 90 or fax +46 8 709 59 80, stating the isbn-number. The price is sek 150 excl. vat and postage. The report can also be downloaded from our websites: www.skl.se and www.sweden.gov.se .

ISBN 978-91-7164-380-3

SE-118 82 Stockholm Visitors Hornsgatan 20 Tel +46 8 452 70 00 Fax +46 8 452 70 50 info@skl.se, www.skl.se


7164-380-3  

http://webbutik.skl.se/bilder/artiklar/pdf/7164-380-3.pdf

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