Municipal Responsibilities

The 98 Danish municipalities are responsible for delivering welfare and developing local communities.

In Denmark, the public sector is highly decentralized. Following the principle of subsidiarity, ‘what can be dealt with on a local basis is dealt with on a local basis’. Thus, delivering welfare services in collaboration with citizens, mobilising resources on a local level, and setting the direction for the development of local communities is done at a city-council level.

With the structural public-sector reform of 2007, the municipalities grew larger and adopted more tasks from the regional and the state level. Specifically, the municipalities took over a number of activities regarding environmental control, adult education, specialised social services, and employment policies. These new areas of municipal responsibility add to the list of existing responsibilities, such as:

  • Health care including rehabilitation, home care, prevention of abuse, dental care, and promotion of health
  • Social services such as care for elderly and disabled, psychiatric treatment, social psychiatry, placement of neglected children, and specialised education
  • Employment stimulation targeted businesses as well as unemployed citizens whether or not they are part of an unemployment-insurance system
  • Integration of refugees and immigrants e.g. through mandatory introduction programs that focus on culture, language, and labour-market entrance
  • Industrial and economic development at both a strategic and an operational level, aiming at stimulating growth
  • Labour-market involvement regarding the Danish model of flexicurity, active labour market policies, local employment strategies, operation of job centres, and taking actions based on agreements from the two- and tripartite system of negotiation
  • Administration and digitalisation such as providing and disseminating a number of administrative tools and best practices regarding good administrative behaviour
  • Technology and the environment covering supervision, sector planning, and preparation of regulations regarding constructions, roads, transportation, drains, recreational areas, drinking water, waste, and waste-water management
  • HR and staff management at a local level e.g. taking demographic changes and foreseeable challenges into account in proactive and sustainable ways
  • Managing the economy of the municipalities, based on local tax impositions, general grants from the state, and a system of financial agreements between the government and Local Government Denmark
  • Primary schooling that is free of charge and compulsory to everyone within the schooling age
  • Child care available to all citizens in urban as well as rural areas