Swiss welfare association calls for higher social spending as inflation bites
As the cost of living continues to rise, Swiss charities have demanded an increase in social spending to cover the shortfall for those most vulnerable. Now, the watchdog for social security in Switzerland has called on the government to foot the bill for price rises in rent, utilities and other essential goods.
Sky-high inflation in Switzerland hits poorest families the most
According to the Federal Statistical Office, inflation rose to 3,4 percent at the end of June, the highest rate of inflation seen in Switzerland since 1993. Despite the figure being lower than inflation rates in other European nations, many products have seen their price rise further, with the cost of petrol (35,4 percent), gas (43,5 percent) and heating oil (88 percent) all increasing significantly in Switzerland since last year.
According to the Caritas aid organisation, those claiming emergency welfare or unemployment benefits are being hit hardest by the price rises. Spokesperson Aline Masé explained, "Most of the time, these people have no financial leeway, if they have to spend more money on energy, housing and food, they have to save it from somewhere else."
New calls for increased social spending in Switzerland
"If energy prices continue to rise and there is a risk of high utility bills, support is urgently needed," Masé noted. Caritas, therefore, called on the government to increase the amount of social assistance given to the most vulnerable, so that they can cope with higher prices.
This stance has been echoed by the official watchdog for social security in Switzerland: The Swiss Conference for Social Welfare (Skos). In a statement, Skos announced that they would be changing their official advice to the government in order to help those on welfare deal with the sudden increase in inflation.
Compensation demanded for increases in rent, education and food costs
Specifically, Skos said that price rises in rent, utilities, education, clothing and food should be paid for by the government in the form of direct relief payments. Managing director Markus Kaufmann said this would cost “16 francs a more month for a one-person household and 34 francs a month for a family of four."
Kaufmann called for the “current increase in prices to be compensated for in social assistance," but conceded that it was up to the government, cantons and cities to decide whether to take Skos' advice. The Federal Council is expected to adjust AHV, pension and welfare payments in the next parliamentary session this autumn.