Families with many children and young singles face cuts in welfare benefits following a decision by the cantonal authorities.
The directors of social affairs on Monday said they also agreed to reduce payments to “uncooperative” welfare recipients as part of a reform of the regulations on welfare payments to come into force next January.
Households with six members or more will have to cope with cuts of CHF76 ($78.4) per month and head. Individuals below the age of 25 who live on their own will see their monthly benefits reduced to CHF789 down from CHF986.
Beneficiaries who refuse to follow orders by the welfare administration risk financial sanctions, notably cuts of up to 30%, according to the rules, which serve as recommendation for the welfare offices.
The co-director of the Association of Welfare Organisations, Felix Wolffers, said the decisions marked a policy sea change, but they were reasonable.
They were taken unanimously according to the head of the cantonal authorities, Peter Gomm. He described the cuts as moderate.
“It is not primarily the figures we looked at, but we tried to improve the system,” he told the media.
The decision is expected to lead to a 2% reduction in public welfare expenditure or about CHF50 million per year.
However, the leftwing Social Democratic Party as well as the Caritas charity said the cuts were an ethical breach, hampering the chances of the less affluent members of society to escape poverty.
Over the past few years, notably the political right has called for spending cuts and measures to tackle a perceived widespread abuse of the Swiss welfare system.
Urs Geiser, swissinfo.ch and agencies