The people of the canton of Zürich, Switzerland, have voted to greatly reduce failed asylum seeker social benefits which could see the canton save as much as 10 million Swiss Francs (£7.6 million).
The proposal was put forth to the people in the form of a referendum which was voted on Sunday and passed with a majority of votes. The new amendment will make it so that asylum seekers who do not qualify for refugee status, but the government is unable to deport, will no longer receive full social assistance but only emergency funds from the Cantonal government, Kronen Zeitung reports.
An estimated 5,300 failed asylum seekers live in the Zürich canton with “F Status” meaning that whilst they have failed in their asylum claim, the government cannot deport them back to their home country because of potential dangers to them.
Formerly, migrants with F status received around 900 Swiss Francs (£691) per month but now will receive only the emergency fund amount of 360 Swiss Francs (£276) each month.
Unlike other countries, failed asylum seekers are allowed to pursue full-time work in Switzerland. If an asylum seeker falls ill or is fired from their job they will still qualify for state benefits but at the new lower asylum seeker rate.
In neighbouring Austria, the issue of welfare payments to asylum seekers has been a contentious issue. According to Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka, around 90 per cent of asylum seekers who have their claims approved end up of social assistance programmes.
Sobotka argued against taking in more migrants from the European Union redistribution scheme saying Austria’s welfare system was already strained. According to a report from last year, asylum seekers were making more money from welfare payments than retired farmers who had paid into the system their entire lives.
In Germany, the real numbers are even greater with an estimated half a million migrants on some form of social assistance costing the German taxpayer billions of euros.