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The coronavirus pandemic affected almost all city activities in 2020. Out of the 41 binding performance targets set for the city, 14 were achieved and seven were partly achieved, according to the Auditing Committee’s assessment. Three of the four performance targets set for the public utilities were achieved. Out of the 36 performance targets set for the group entities, 23 were achieved. The coronavirus pandemic has posed significant added challenges to the achievement of the economic and employment-related performance targets. The unemployed accounted for 12.2 per cent of the workforce at the end of 2020, whereas a year earlier the figure was 7.7 per cent. In particular, the unemployment rates of young people and foreign nationals increased due to the coronavirus situation. The share of municipal funding of labour market subsidies totalled EUR 24.6 million, exceeding the previous year’s figure by EUR 4 million.
The city’s financial result and annual contribution margin for 2020 were significantly better than estimated in the budget due to the state’s one-off coronavirus compensation payments and the exceptional transfer of tax revenue from 2019 to 2020. The city received a total of EUR 1,810 million in tax funding, i.e. revenues from taxes and central government transfers to local government, which was 14.5 per cent more than in 2019. Without the one-off coronavirus support amounts paid by the state in 2020, Espoo’s tax revenues would have been approximately EUR 36 million lower, central government transfers to local government would have been EUR 101 million lower and the city’s result would have been negative. The clearing of the health care, education and welfare backlogs, which have built up during the coronavirus pandemic and continue to build up, will increase the city’s expenditure and require resources in service provision.
The council term goal of decreasing the Corporate Group’s adjusted loan portfolio was not achieved. The implementation of the Economically Sustainable Espoo productivity and adjustment programme, which has been approved by the City Council, is essential in order to establish a balance with regard to the economy of the city and the Corporate Group.
The Auditing Committee is concerned about the long-term effects of the reduction of children’s preventive services due to the coronavirus pandemic. As the pandemic continues, the risks of inequality and welfare gaps between families increase. In terms of adult social services, the overall care deficit caused by the pandemic can only be assessed later because the need for services will partly arise with a delay, for example as the financial situation of a family deteriorates.
Home care services still face challenges with regard to the turnover of nurses and the number of nurses visiting a client. Elderly services must ensure that a client has a place in a nursing home that covers their needs when it is not possible or practical to provide services in the client’s home. It is important that the quality of nursing homes is monitored and that the monitoring of intensified sheltered housing continues in line with the monitoring plan.
The financial impact of the health and social services reform that is currently being planned will be unreasonable for Espoo. The Auditing Committee is concerned about the city’s ability to fulfil its extensive service provision and investment obligations if the reform is implemented as proposed.
The assessment of the Auditing Committee is based on an assessment plan that covers the City Council term as well as an annual assessment programme. The assessment report was submitted to the Chair of the City Council on 4 May 2021. For further information, please contact Paula Viljakainen, Chair of the Auditing Committee, tel. 050 5727 497.