12 Jan 2018

Austria resists cuts in unemployment benefits

A plan by Austria's ruling coalition to eliminate an emergency fund for the unemployed has encountered widespread resistance.

Christine Tragler
Christine Tragler Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
Austria resists cuts in unemployment benefits - NewsMavens
Woman begging. Wikicommons.

Why this story matters:


Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) and Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache (FPÖ) say they want to re-design social policy to eliminate an emergency fund granted to unemployed Austrians after their unemployment benefits run out.

Their proposal was met with a cross-party wave of resistance. Vienna Mayor Michael Häupl (SPÖ) called it "a war against the poor."

The provincial governor of Vorarlberg, Markus Wallner (ÖVP) said a "one-sided phasing out" of emergency assistance was out of the question. Governor of Carinthia Peter Kaiser (SPÖ) warned against increasing poverty. In Corinthia, almost 10,000 people would be affected.

The Chamber of Labor pointed out that more than a third of emergency fund recipients are over 50 years old, and changing the law would be a "direct path to the debt trap and poverty for the elderly."

Details from the story:

  • The government is planning to abolish emergency assistance after unemployment benefits expire.
  • The plan would disproportionately hurt older citizens. More than a third (57,000) who receive the benefit are at least 50 years old.
  • Elected officials from several political parties have criticized the ruling coalition's intentions.
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