The 98 Danish municipalities are responsible for delivering welfare and developing local communities.
A Decentralized Public Sector
In Denmark, the public sector is highly decentralized and follows 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 responsibilities 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