Six new Flash Reports prepared by the European Social policy Network (ESPN) have just become available and provide information on recent policy initiatives in Austria, Estonia, Hungary and Iceland
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- In Austria, compulsory schooling ends at the age of 15, but in June 2016 a reform introducing compulsory education and training up to the age of 18 came into force. It stipulates that parents must ensure that young people aged 15-18 participate in further education and training measures if they have not completed secondary school. The objective is to prevent young people from achieving very low levels of education which often result in poor job prospects.
- From 1 July 2016, minimum income benefits have been reduced substantially for beneficiaries of subsidiary protection and for persons granted temporary political asylum in the Federal Province of Upper Austria. This decision was taken irrespective of doubts about its constitutionality and conformity with international law, and irrespective of an ongoing nationwide debate on a possible reform of the minimum income scheme.
- Estonia’s new Family Benefits Act extends the maintenance support paid by the state to single parents when the other parent has not fulfilled the obligations decided on by the court. The state will then claim the amounts from the debtor parent using administrative measures. The new scheme should encourage single parents to go to court, and reduce their risk of poverty.
- The Hungarian pension administration has been equipped with a dynamic microsimulation model to make more precise projections about the future stability of the pension system and to test the aggregate and distributive consequences of various policy measures.
- In June 2016, the Hungarian government started reorganising the pension administration. The reorganisation will take place in two stages: first, the pension administration will be merged with the units of the National Health Insurance Fund dealing with cash benefits, and then these will be integrated into the State Treasury. The entire process is planned to be completed by end March 2017.
- New legislation on subsidies for user costs of healthcare services in Iceland is for the first time applying maximum monthly and yearly limits to individuals’ expenditure on these services. The main aim of this reform is to reduce costs for those in greatest need of services; more modest users will pay more.