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Austria: Government to cut social benefits for non-nationals

The new Austrian government, a coalition between the conservative People’s Party (ÖVP) and the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ), presented its plan to reform the minimum benefit system. Non-nationals and recognised refugees are among the most affected population groups, as part of the minimum benefit – €300 of the total €863 – would be conditional to the graduation of compulsory education in Austria, or to minimal language knowledge: B1 CEFR for German or C1 for English.

The reform also aims to reduce the minimum benefit for families with many children. In the future, benefits would be limited to children living in the household and the amount per child would be decreasing with any additional child. Families will therefore receive +25% of the standard rate for their first child, +15% for the second and +5% for the third child. There will be no further benefits for additional children. The cutback of social benefits in general and for non-nationals and refugees in particular was one of the biggest campaign pledges of both ÖVP and FPÖ. 

The announced reform is criticised by NGOs and its legal conformity with EU law and the Geneva Convention on Refugees questioned by lawyers. The draft legal proposal is expected to be presented later on in June.

The planned reform