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Social aid Cities report increase in welfare recipients

Harder for those without qualifications to access the job market.

(Keystone)

A report that looks at social welfare trends in 13 Swiss cities points to an overall 2.5% increase in the number of recipients of social welfare in 2013 compared to the year before. The social indicators assessed in the report are meant to help cities anticipate problems and work together to develop appropriate strategies.

The report was published in collaboration with the Swiss City Association and Bern’s University of Applied Sciences. The cities covered in the report include Basel, Bern, Lausanne, Lucerne, St Gallen, Zug and Zurich.

Even though the 13 cities studied account for only 15% of the Swiss population, they support 28% of those on social benefits. The highest proportion of welfare recipients were found in  Biel (11,7%), Lausanne (10.2%) and Basel (6,5%) while the lowest were in Uster (near Zurich) and Zug at 1.5%.

For a growing number of beneficiaries, social aid was perceived as a longer-term sustenance measure instead of temporary assistance during a tough period. The average expected duration of social assistance has also been steadily increasing, from 32 months in 2006 to 38 months in 2013.

The most vulnerable groups remained the same: single parent families and their children, couples with more than three children, those with limited professional qualifications, foreigners (especially those without formal training) and unemployed persons older than 55 years.

As the report has been published for the past 15 years, it is possible to discern the impact of reforms in disability and unemployment assistance policies over the years. Those with disabilities or health limitations are more likely to be dependent on social assistance and for a longer duration than ever before. And, a long period of unemployment or a health setback has a higher negative effect since a series of reforms went into effect.

Structural changes in the Swiss economy have also made it much harder for those without qualifications or with reduced work capacity to access the job market.

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