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2004-05-25

Caritas-president on poverty relief 

Franz Küberl, president of the influential catholic charity 'Caritas', has reiterated the demand for an individual social security minimum of EUR 653 in an interview [DE] for Die Presse.

According to Küberl, EUR 653 is higher in most cases than the 'emergency aid' received by long-term unemployed as a last resort. Küberl wants that everybody who is unemployed and looking for work, as well as every pensioner should be guaranteed this amount as a monthly minimum to prevent the slide into absolute poverty. The current emergency aid system is apparently not sufficient to achieve that.

As I wrote in a recent post, there is a strong argument that such minimum payments should be contingent on actual need. In addition, if such a system was to be introduced, this should probably be done gradually so as to avoid inflation effects such as rent increases. The level would also have to be as low as possible to prevent problems in the jobmarket for low-paid jobs, while it should be high enough to guarantee a life without existentially threatening poverty. Immigrants should get only gradual access to this benefit, reaching full access only after a long period of residency such as twelve years.

If these requirements can be met, such a minimum security net would be an important element of a strategy to reduce the Austrian fear of economic competition, without hurting the competitiveness of the economy.


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