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Addressing abuses Cabinet tackles welfare and housing issues

There is a shortage of affordable housing in urban areas around Zurich, Basel and Lake Geneva


The government has announced plans to combat welfare system abuses and a lack of affordable housing. Supporters of immigration curbs say an immigrant influx is to blame for both issues, though cabinet cites other factors driving up housing costs.

Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann said the cabinet was considering measures to boost property and building corporations to acquire land and make the rent levels more transparent.

About 60% of residents in Switzerland live in rented accommodation.

However, he said the government had ruled out direct state intervention in the housing market, confirming a decision taken last May.

Schneider-Ammann reiterated that immigration was not the decisive factor for a shortage of housing in urban areas, notably around Zurich, the Lake Geneva region and Basel.

He said higher living standards in general, the ageing population and regional economic issues played a crucial part.

Tuesday’s announcement generated mixed reactions from the main political parties and organisations, withthe centre-left Social Democrats saying more should be done and the centre-right Radicals saying they’re pleased the government does not want to intervene more.

The rightwing Swiss People’s Party believes the proposed measures will attract even more foreigners, while the Swiss Homeowners Association fears creating more bureaucracy.

Jobless foreigners

Meanwhile, the government says it wants to crack down on abuses of the welfare system by jobless foreign nationals in Switzerland.

The justice ministry said it would present plans over the next four months to streamline regulations on welfare payments to immigrants looking for work in Switzerland and their families.

The country’s 26 cantons currently have different regional regulations.

On February 9, Swiss voters will have the final say on a controversial proposal by the rightwing Swiss People’s Party to cap the number of immigrants, including asylum seekers, and re-introduce a system of annual quotas.

At least two other ballots on immigration are pending. and agencies


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