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Welfare payments in 2018 averaged CHF10,379 per person

In this staged photo, a debt adviser speaks to a client (Keystone)

Net expenditure on social assistance in Switzerland increased by 1.3% in 2018 compared with the previous year. The government, cantons and municipalities paid out a total of CHF8.4 billion ($8.6 billion).

Each recipient of social assistanceexternal link received an average of CHF10,379, the Federal Statistical Office said in a statement on Tuesday. This is an increase of 2.4% on 2017. Expenditure per beneficiary had risen by 1.6% in 2017 and by 1.7% in 2016.

The figures differ from canton to canton: the highest benefits per beneficiary were seen in cantons Basel City, Vaud, Zurich, Bern and Solothurn, where beneficiaries received between CHF11,421 and CHF11,881 per year. The lowest average amount was paid in canton Appenzell Inner Rhodes (CHF4,648), followed by Fribourg and Obwalden (more than CHF6,000).

Supplementary benefits absorb 46.2% of the CHF8.4 billion, economic social assistance 34%, family allowances just under 11%, advances on maintenance payments 5% and housing allowances 3.4%.

Economic social assistance in the narrow sense – also called economic social assistance – does not take into account recipients of a supplementary benefit to the Old Age and Survivors/Disability Insuranceexternal link, nor of various forms of support for families, housing and the unemployed.

Fewer beneficiaries

The number of beneficiaries decreased slightly. After record years between 2014 and 2016 when about 9.6% of the population was receiving social assistance in the broader senseexternal link, this rate declined by 0.1 percentage points in the following two years (9.5%).

Spending decreased slightly on asylum and refugees. In these two areas, costs rose steadily between 2008 and 2017 from CHF330 million to CHF988 million. In 2018 they fell for the first time in ten years by 2.5% to CHF961.7 million.

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