An Austrian conservative politician has slammed the ruling coalition in Vienna after revealing that new migrants receive more benefits than retired farmers.
Club chairman of the conservative Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), Reinhold Lopatka, has called to the attention of the ruling coalition that new asylum seekers are paid more than retired Austrian farmers, although they have never paid into the welfare system. Mr. Lopatka called on the Socialist party leader and Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern to address the issue, though the reaction from his socialist party and the Greens was largely negative, reports Kronen Zeitung.
According to the numbers Mr. Lopatka produced, the average asylum seeker receives 837.60 euros per month from Austrian taxpayers, despite having never paid taxes in Austria their entire lives. Farmers who have retired and collect a pension from the government collect, on average, 620 euros.
Lopatka said that it is unfair that a farmer who has spent his entire life doing backbreaking work and dutifully paying his taxes should collect less money than someone who had shown up in the country yesterday. He added that it is even more unfair that the son of the farmer would also have to pay into a system which favored people who had contributed nothing.
The issue of asylum benefits in Austria has been a long-contested issue by several members of the ÖVP and by the entirety of the anti-mass migration Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), both of whom want to lower the amounts given to asylum seekers. The two parties argue that lowering the benefits would create less incentive for additional migrants to come into the country, though both the Socialists and Greens reject the proposals, and some even wish to give asylum seekers more money.
The migrant crisis has not been cheap for the small alpine republic. Last year, some estimated that the costs of the migrant crisis could amount to an excess of 12 billion euros. The number would be more than seven times the annual budget spent on national defense.
Austria has spent even more money on trying to encourage migrants to leave the country and return to their homelands to save money on asylum cases, feeding and housing them. While some have taken the government up on their offer, receiving often in excess of 500 euros in addition to travel expenses, the majority have decided to stay because many argue Austria offers them a far better life than their home countries ever could.
The costs in the UK are no better, with recent reports stating that 20,000 Syrian migrants alone could cost British taxpayers £1.7 billion up until the year 2020.