Le News

Le News

The newspaper Le News is a free, quality, local English language newspaper launched on 31 October 2013. Le News fills a gap in local Swiss media for the numerous English-speakers living and visiting Switzerland. In late January 2015 we decided to put our print medium on hold and focus on our digital media presence.

Articles by Le News

Swiss government aims to cut 2 billion from 2024 budget

Like many governments across the world, Switzerland’s federal government is spending more than it collects. Extraordinary spending on Covid and refugees has pushed Switzerland’s finances into the red, a situation Karin Keller-Sutter, the current finance minister, hopes to eliminate by 2024.

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Retirement at 68.2 to cover Swiss pension shortfall, says UBS

Swiss resident’s are regularly reminded of the large financial gap is Switzerland’s state pension system. Despite this, several attempts at reform have failed to gain sufficient support. Those that have still leave a large shortfall. On 24 January 2023, UBS published four additional reform scenarios. Only the fourth, with a life expectancy adjusted retirement age of 68.2 years eliminates the current projected shortfall.

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Swiss rents and property prices up in 2022

A sharp rise in rent in December 2022 (+1.1%) left the average Swiss rent 4.3% higher than at the beginning of 2022, according to the Swiss Real Estate Offer Index, published on 4 January 2023 by SMG Swiss Marketplace Group. This annual jump of 4.3% exceeds the annual CPI increase of 2.8% announced this week.

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No rise in Switzerland’s rent rate

Every three months the rate of interest used to set the rents in Switzerland is reviewed. If it goes down some renters have the right to request a decrease in rent. If it goes up landlords can push up rents. This time the rate remained at 1.25%, however it looks set to rise next year.

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Swiss rents set to rise as much as 15 percent

Close to half of renters is Switzerland could face significant increases in rent, estimates Zürich Kantonalbank (ZKB), with rents potentially rising as much as 15% over the next five years, reported the newspaper Blick.

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Swiss construction workers protest over hours and pay

After construction workers went out on strike for two days in French-speaking Switzerland, construction workers protested in Zurich over hours and pay on 11 November 2022, reported RTS.

Photo by Rodolfo Quirós on Pexels.comWith inflation in Switzerland running at 3%, construction workers are demanding higher pay. However, the construction industry has responded with an offer of better pay tied to higher maximum hours. The industry would like maximum weekly hours to rise to 58 and the maximum number of daily hours to 12. Employers are also asking for changes that would make it easier to layoff older workers. The industry is asking for these concessions in return for a pay increase.

Workers are unhappy with higher maximum hours and argue they should get a pay increase to compensate

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Winter electricity cuts feared, says head of Swiss commission

Electricity cuts lasting several hours are predicted this winter in Switzerland, according to Laurianne Altwegg, vice president of the Federal Electricity Commission. This winter we should ensure we have enough candles and wood for a wood stove for those who have one, advised Altwegg in an interview with RTS.

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Switzerland may have passed 6th Covid peak

Data published this week on 19 July 2022, suggest that 6th wave Covid-19 infections in Switzerland may have peaked. Data published by Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health show 46,099 new cases over the 7 days to 18 July 2022. Over the prior 7 days there were 55,339 cases. Recorded cases have dropped 17% week on week.

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Swiss inflation up again in June 2022

On 4 July 2022, Switzerland’s Federal Statistical Office (FSO) published June inflation data, which show prices 3.4% higher than one year ago, well above the Swiss National Bank target of 2.0%. Switzerland’s consumer price index (CPI) increased by 0.5% in June 2022, less than the 0.7% rise in May 2022.

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Higher federal tax deductions for health insurance announced

The cost of Swiss health insurance has risen sharply over the years. However, the amount that can be deducted from income to calculate federal taxes has remained comparatively low. This week, Switzerland’s parliament voted in favour of closing the gap between the standardised health insurance tax deductions and what people actually pay, reported RTS.

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Recent price rises only the beginning, says Swiss consumer association

Food, energy and housing costs are rising in Switzerland and consumers are beginning to change their spending habits. So far inflation in Switzerland has been moderate with annual inflation of 2.5%. However, according to FRC, a consumer association in French-speaking Switzerland, recent price rises are only the beginning, reported RTS.

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Tips for cutting energy bills

As the prices of fossil fuels skyrocket and further supply and price uncertainty looms, many are seeking ways to cut the amount they spend on home energy. A publication by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) shows where savings can be made.

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Average annual healthcare costs hit 9,600 francs in Switzerland in 2020

Statistics published on 26 April 2022 show health expenditure in Switzerland rose to CHF 9,648 (US$ 10,8001) per person in 2020, making Switzerland (probably) the second biggest per-capita healthcare spender in the world – the OECD has not yet published 2020 expenditure for the US, which is typically the world’s highest spender.

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Swiss health insurance could jump by 9 percent next year

According to the newspaper Le Matin Swiss health insurance premiums could rise by 7% to 9%, reported RTS. The future rise in the cost of health insurance is estimated based on data on the rising healthcare costs being passed on to health insurance companies. According to the data, costs rose during the second half of 2021. Across all of 2021 costs were up by 5.1% and the trend appears to have continued.

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Switzerland to drop all Covid restrictions

On 30 March 2022, Switzerland’s government announced the end of all measures aimed at reducing the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus from 1 April 2022. Currently, the only federal measures left are the requirement to wear masks on public transport and in health facilities and the obligation to self-isolate after infection with the disease.

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Covid cases up 42% in a week in Switzerland

This week, 171,085 new Covid-19 cases were reported in Switzerland, up 42% from the 120,901 cases reported a week earlier. In addition, the reported number of Covid-19 patients hospitalised leapt too. This week 482 were admitted, up 37% from 352 the week before.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.comThe 7-day average case number had been in constant decline since the end of January 2022. However, the number of new cases turned upwards towards the end of February. On 11 March 2022, 32,087 new Covid-19 cases were reported. In reality the number is likely to be higher. The positivity rate was nearly 56% on PCR tests, a rate that could suggest that a smaller than average percentage of infections are being picked up.

However, the number of deaths, which tends to lag behind cases and

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Covid: weekly cases and hospitalisations rising again in Switzerland

This week, 120,9017 new Covid-19 cases were reported in Switzerland, up 24% from the 97,335 cases reported a week earlier. In addition, the reported number of Covid-19 patients hospitalised edged up slightly from 340 to 352 compared to the week before.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.comThe 7-day average case number had been in constant decline since the end of January. However, the number began to turn upwards in the days leading up to the end of February. On 4 March 2022, 25,131 new cases were reported.

At the same time reported weekly Covid-19 deaths were down slightly from 52 to 42. In addition, the number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care fell 14% from 143 to 123.

According to infectious disease expert Didier Pittet the rise in cases is not unexpected after relaxing

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Chart of the week: Swiss retirement age compared

Switzerland’s retirement age of 65 for men and 64 for women puts its state pensioners in the youngest half of OECD retirees.

Photo by MART PRODUCTION on Pexels.comThis week, when a Swiss parliamentarian asked in which direction pension reform was heading, he received a written response that said the state pension system could be stabilised from 2030 with a rise in the retirement age to 68 for both men and women, reported the NZZ newspaper. Many nations have already moved in this direction to make pension funding add up as the number of retirees swells.

So how does Switzerland compare to other OECD nations?

Swiss women get to collect a full state pension 10 years before their counterparts in Denmark eventually will, and Swiss men will get a 9 year head start on Danish men. Both

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Covid: weekly cases and hospitalisations fall further as Switzerland drops nearly all measures

This week, 118,555 new Covid-19 cases were reported in Switzerland, down 25% from the 157,683 cases reported a week earlier. The reported number of Covid-19 patients hospitalised also fell 20% from 492 to 392 across the week.

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.comCovid-19 deaths were also down. Across the week, 61 Covid-19 related deaths were reported, a figure 13% lower than the 70 reported the week before. In addition, the number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care fell 13% from 198 to 172.

On Thursday, nearly every anti-Covid-19 measure was dropped in Switzerland. Residents were allowed to enter shops and most public spaces without masks for the first time in a very long time.

A study was published this week, which estimated that as much as 40% of Switzerland’s

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Higher tax deductions for parents in Switzerland starting in 2023

This week, Switzerland’s government set a date for the introduction of more generous tax deductions for childcare. From 1 January 2023, parents will be able to deduct up to CHF 25,000 per child in childcare costs from their annual taxable income, reported RTS. Currently, the maximum is CHF 10,100 per child.

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Vote against Swiss “Netflix tax” passes signature hurdle

In October 2021, Switzerland’s government created a law requiring online streaming services to pay money into a Swiss cinema fund. Under the law, from 2024, streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+ will need to pay a levy equivalent to 4% of their Swiss turnover into the fund, which would be spent on producing Swiss films.

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No weakening expected in Swiss house prices

The Swiss housing market continues to rise with no signs of weakening, reported RTS this week. According to the real estate platform immoscout24, the average price per m2 for a family home in Switzerland has risen from CHF 6,700 to CHF 7,200 over the last 12 months, a rise of 7%. Apartment prices have risen even further in some places.

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Switzerland set to tax e-cigarettes

On 17 December 2021, Switzerland’s Federal Council put forward a plan to tax the liquids used for e-cigarettes, reported RTS. The Federal Council is proposing a tax similar to the tax on tobacco but at a lower rate in line with e-cigarettes’ lower toxicity. The government does not want to discourage tobacco smokers from transitioning to e-cigarettes and proposes a rate 77% lower than the tax on tobacco cigarettes.

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Two Swiss cities remain in top 10 most expensive globally

The latest Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) survey of the prices of 200 goods and services in 173 cities placed both Geneva and Zurich in the top 10 most expensive cities in 2021. Overall, the cost of living across these 173 cities has risen by an average of 3.5%, the highest inflation seen in the last 5 years.

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Swiss Federal Council rejects two votes on pension reform

This week, the Federal Council rejected two very different initiatives aimed at changing the state pension system. In common with much of the developed world, Switzerland is facing a large gap between the money required to fund state pensions and the money flowing in to pay for them, a challenge driven by increasing life expectancy, a rise in the number of pensioners as the population ages and the way the system is funded.

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Swiss government deficit for 2021 revised down

The latest forecast for 2021 shows a deficit of CHF 14.8 billion, down CHF 2.6 billion from an earlier forecast shortfall of CHF 17.4 billion. The deficit is driven mainly by the extraordinary cost of responding to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Swiss unemployment down, especially among young

Unemployment fell from 2.7% to 2.6% in September 2021 in Switzerland, with a sharp drop among those aged 15 to 24, reported RTS. By the end of September 2021, just over 200,000 people were looking for employment in Switzerland according to Switzerland’s standard measure, which is focused on those registered with the official unemployment office, something required to collect unemployment benefits.

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Swiss health premiums to rise for many in 2022 despite average price fall

Compulsory Swiss health insurance premiums are on average set to fall by 0.2% in 2022, announced the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) on 28 September 2021. This is the first time since 2008 that average premiums have fallen.

© Francisco Javier Zea Lara | Dreamstime.comBasic health insurance is compulsory in Switzerland and governed by federal law called LAMal. Insurers must offer basic insurance to everyone who applies regardless of their health or habits. Anyone failing to insure will have the choice of insurer made for them by the authorities and receive a bill.

Swiss healthcare is costly. In 2018, Switzerland had the world’s second most costly healthcare (12.2% of GDP) trailing only the United States (16.9%) on share of national income spent on health. The OECD average

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Swiss flood damage could cost half a billion francs

Switzerland’s four largest buildings insurers estimate the costs of recent weather events could reach half a billion francs across Switzerland, reported RTS. According to Grégoire Deiss, who works for the cantonal buildings insurer ECAB in Fribourg, the cost of recent storms and flooding could be around CHF 500 million across all of Switzerland, a figure he based on claims that have been made so far.

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Covid: 67% of Geneva now has Antibodies

Vaccination has pushed the percentage of residents in Geneva with antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus up to 67%, according to a recent study by Geneva’s HUG hospital. To some extent, Geneva has been at the forefront of Switzerland’s experience with Covid-19. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the canton has recorded Switzerland’s highest rate of infection, 54% above the Swiss average.

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Covid: 483 New Cases in 24 hours in Switzerland

On 13 July 2021, Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) reported 483 new cases of Covid-19, up from a daily average of 274 over the preceding three days. The rise in cases follows a rising trend in the incidence of the more infectious Delta variant, which now makes up the majority of DNA sequenced samples in Switzerland.

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EU Now Accepts Swiss Covid Certificates

The European Commission has given the Swiss Covid certificate a green light for inclusion on the EU-wide digital Covid certificate platform. This means that holders of Swiss Covid certificates are able to present their Swiss-issued Covid certificate QR codes at ports of entry into EU nations under the same conditions as holders of certificates from EU nations.

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EU recognition of Swiss Covid certificate imminent

According to RTS, Brussels is close to giving the Swiss Covid certificate a green light for inclusion on the EU-wide digital Covid certificate platform. This means that Swiss residents will soon be able to present their Swiss-issued Covid certificate QR codes at ports of entry into EU nations.

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Swiss social spending up nearly 60 percent in 20 years

In 1999, social expenditure in Switzerland was CHF 13,370 per resident. By 2019, the same figure had reached CHF 21,300, a rise of nearly 60%. Over the same period, total inflation was around 11%. Applying inflation to CHF 13,370 brings the figure to CHF 14,480. Why has the cost risen beyond this and how has the extra spending been funded?

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Swiss Meat and Eggs often not very Swiss

Any animal raised and slaughtered in Switzerland can be labelled Swiss. However, what the animal has been fed could be from anywhere. If animals are what they eat then much of the meat and eggs labelled Swiss aren’t very Swiss.

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Covid: Swiss cases down 44% this week as Delta looms

This week, 880 new Covid-19 cases were recorded in Switzerland, down 44% from the week before (1,576). The daily number of cases on a 7-day rolling average is now 126. During the week, 22 people were reported being admitted to hospital in Switzerland with Covid-19.

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Covid: Swiss cases fall as UK cases turn exponential. Why?

Coronavirus Data Explorer, May and June 2021

The number of Covid-19 cases in Switzerland continues to fall. On 15 June 2021, 243 new cases were reported. A month earlier the 7-day average was 2,161 cases. Swiss cases have dropped by 89% in a month. In the UK the number of cases has roughly tripled over the same period and the government has decided to extend current restrictions until 19 July 2021.

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Swiss Unemployment Continues to Fall in May

By the end of May 2021, the percentage of Switzerland’s workforce registered as out of work had fallen to 3.1%, down from 3.3% in April 2021. The figures are based on those registered as unemployed at regional employment centres and exclude many of those that have been out of for more than two years and have exhausted their rights to collect unemployment benefits.

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Switzerland clears Covid-19 vaccine for 12 to 15 year-olds

On 4 June 2021, Swissmedic, Switzerland’s drug approval authority, announced it was extending authorisation of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to 12-15 year olds. The vaccine, also known under the brand name Comirnaty®, has had temporary ordinary authorisation for use in Switzerland on people aged 16 or over since 19 December 2020.

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Covid: how is Switzerland going on vaccinations?

On 23 December 2021, a 90-year old resident of Luzern, was the first person in Switzerland to be vaccinated against Covid-19. In the roughly 5 months since then, more than 3 million people in Switzerland have received at least one dose of vaccine, representing around 36% of the population.

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Covid: new cases down 28% in Switzerland this week

This week, 5,670 new Covid-19 cases were recorded in Switzerland, down 28% from the week before (7,843), continuing the downward trend of new numbers of recorded infections. The daily number of cases on a 7-day rolling average has more than halved (-58%) in 4 weeks falling from 1,924 to 810.

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Covid: UK now on Swiss risk list

On 27 May 2021, the UK was added Switzerland’s list of risk countries. This means that anyone arriving in Switzerland from the UK from 6pm on Thursday must quarantine upon arrival, with a few exceptions. The UK was added to the Federal Office of Public Health’s (FOPH) list of countries with a worrying variant, alongside Brazil, Canada, India, Nepal and South Africa.

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Only vaccinated to get Covid certificates before end June in Switzerland


Initially, in Switzerland, only those who have been vaccinated will get a Covid certificate. Those who have received a negative test result or have been infected and recovered will have to wait, according to a report in the TagesAnzeiger. This information was later confirmed by the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), according to RTS.

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Organic farming continues to gain ground in Switzerland

Switzerland continues to shift towards organic farming. Between 2000 and 2020, the number of organic farms has risen by 54%. In 2020, the number rose 3.8%. Organic farms now make up 15.3% of total farms in Switzerland, up from 6.9% 20 years ago. In 2000, there were 4,902 organic farms. By 2020, the number had risen 54% to 7,561.

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Latest poll shows majority support for Swiss anti-pesticide votes

With five weeks to go before Swiss vote on two initiatives aimed at drastically cutting the use of pesticides, more than 50% appear to be in favour of both initiatives, according to RTS.

© Dusan Kostic | Dreamstime.comOne of these initiatives, the clean drinking water initiative, aims to tie access to Switzerland’s generous farm subsidies to forgoing pesticide (and antibiotic) use. The second aims to ban the use of synthetic pesticide use more broadly after a 10 year transition period.

A recent poll suggests 54% are either for (33%) or fairly for (21%) the clean drinking water initiative, and 55% are either for (33%) or fairly for (22%) the ban on synthetic pesticide use. Only 28% are firmly against both.

Over 80% say they will vote the same way for both initiatives.


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Swiss consumer sentiment nearly back to pre-crisis level

The primary reason for the rise in consumer sentiment is a significant improvement in expectations regarding general economic development. This sub-index climbed from -18 points in January to +3 in April, the highest value recorded since autumn 2018, indicating that consumers are expecting the economic recovery to continue over the coming twelve months.

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Covid: 13,465 new cases in Switzerland this week

This week, saw 13,465 new Covid-19 cases in Switzerland, down 5% from a week before (14,110) continuing the 5% slow down in growth of new numbers experienced last week.

© Andrii Kozlytskyi | Dreamstime.comThe 7-day average is currently 1,924, dipping below the level of 2,000 for the first time since 11 April 2021.

By 30 April 2021, 10.8% of Switzerland’s population was fully vaccinated, up from 9.6% a week earlier. This week, the number of doses administered per 100 people rose from  26.4 to 30.6, leaving Switzerland trailing behind the EU (32.1 per 100), the UK (70.9) and US (70.2).

By the end of this week, Switzerland’s reproduction rate was below 1.00 overall (0.98) with a few hotspots in central and far eastern Switzerland.

Currently, 25% of hospital beds remain

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Covid: the 3 phases of Switzerland’s return to normal

This week, Switzerland’s government set out the three phases of its plan to return to normal at a press conference recorded by RTS. The first is the protection phase, which we are currently in. This involves vaccinating the vulnerable and could last until the end of May 2021.

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IMF praises Switzerland’s economic response to the pandemic

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Switzerland has economically navigated the Covid-19 pandemic well so far. In 2020, the Swiss economy shrank by 2.9%, far less than many other advanced European economies. France (-8.2%), Germany (-4.9%), Italy (-8.9%) and the UK (-9.9%) all performed far worse.

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France asks Switzerland for help with Covid patients

The French region of Bourgogne-Franche Comté has contacted several Swiss cantons and asked them if they would take Covid patients, according to RTS. Jacques Gerber, the minister of health in the canton of Jura told RTS that there had been a request from France to prepare in case French hospitals become overloaded.

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Swiss upper house votes to raise pension age for women

As Switzerland’s population ages the number of people paid state pension is rising relative to the number of workers funding it. Since 2014, more has been paid out than has been paid in. The most effective way to fix this imbalance is to raise the pension age. If the average life expectancy of a retiree is 15 years, then raising the pension age by one year will cut the cost by nearly 7%.

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Record fall in Swiss hotel occupancy in 2020

In 2020, the number of overnight stays in Swiss hotels fell by 40% to 23.7 million, a fall of 15.8 million nights compared to 2019. The fall, driven by Covid-19, is the largest fall in overnight stays in Switzerland since the end of the 1950s, according to Switzerland’s Federal Statistical Office.

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Poverty in Switzerland: fresh data on those struggling to get by

In 2019, the poverty line in Switzerland was CHF 27,348 (US$ 30,500) for a single person and CHF 47,712 (US$ 53,200) for a couple with two young children. The figures are calculated by SKOS based on the cost of living in Switzerland. People with incomes below these levels in Switzerland are considered to by living in poverty.

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Covid: new negative test requirement for entering Switzerland

From Monday 8 February 2021, many people entering Switzerland require a negative PCR test. Currently, there are restrictions on who can enter Switzerland. Generally, only those with a Swiss passport, a valid Swiss residence or cross-border permit, and those who are citizens of an EU or EFTA nation are allowed to enter Switzerland under the current Covid-19 restrictions.

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Covid: time to double down, says Swiss expert

Since reaching a peak in early November 2020, Covid-19 cases in Switzerland have fallen significantly. The 7-day daily average was 8,238 on 8 November 2020. By 8 February 2021, this figure was down by more than 80% at 1,437. However, according to Martin Ackermann, head of the Swiss National COVID-19 Science Task Force, now is not the time for Switzerland to relax.

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Covid: Israel’s vaccine experiment looks promising

Israel leads the world in the race to vaccinate against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, in what some are calling the world’s leading Covid-19 vaccine experiment. 64 doses of vaccine per 100 people have been administered there, far more than in any other nation.

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Covid: responding to coronavirus denial

This week, the Swiss National COVID-19 Science Task Force published a guide on responding to coronavirus denial. During second wave, trust in the decisions of the Swiss authorities dropped below where it was in spring, and the social consensus on how to respond to the pandemic eroded over the summer, said the authors.

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Covid: Switzerland reaches 66,000 vaccinations against the virus

Oxana Medvedeva

Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) recently reported that 66,000 people in Switzerland had been vaccinated against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19. The number was communicated by Nora Kronig of the FOPH during a press conference in Bern on Thursday 14 January 2020.

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Covid: closing Swiss schools one of most effective measures, says study

School closed

The number of Covid cases went down significantly in Switzerland during spring as a result of schools closing, according to a study by ETH Zurich, reported RTS. Researchers at the university analysed anonymised mobile phone data of 1.5 billion movements of the Swiss population between 10 February and 26 April 2020. They used this data to calculate how much certain measures reduced mobility and contact.

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Covid: negative test to enter France from Switzerland only required if resident in France

On 19 December 2020, the French government advised against French residents travelling to Switzerland to ski and introduced rules that made returning difficult, including a requirement to show a negative Covid-19 test less than 72 hours old or to quarantine on arrival.

© Anne Laure Affre | Dreamstime.comThe rule covered all those entering France from the cantons of Graubünden, Jura, Neuchâtel, Uri, Valais and Vaud.

However, it was not initially clear who was affected by the rules.

The French consulat in Geneva has since clarified that the rule only applies to French residents returning to France from these Swiss cantons. Residents of Switzerland are therefore not included and can enter France without a negative Covid test.

More on this:Consulat website (in French) – Take a 5

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Covid: UK tourists break Covid quarantine in Verbier

Shortly after the UK announced it was struggling to contain a new faster spreading strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the Swiss government announced a backdated 10-day quarantine requirement for UK arrivals. This affected hundreds of UK tourists already in the winter resort of Verbier.

Verbier, SwitzerlandAround 400 UK tourists, who had arrived after the retrospective 14 December 2020 quarantine cut off date, were staying the Swiss resort.

Hotels and chalets were contacted, and with the help of flight records, UK travellers were located and notified of the 10-day quarantine requirement.

However, many of the UK visitors broke quarantine and quietly left without checking out, contacting hotels later by telephone from outside the country, according to various reports. According to one

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Italy suspends rail links with Switzerland

Update: It appears rail connections between Italy and Switzerland will not be interrupted after Switzerland’s president and the Italian minister of transport spoke on Wednesday. Solutions have been identified to ensure compliance with Italy’s anti-COVID measures. Rail links are expected to gradually return to normal over the next few days, according to a report by RSI.

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Covid: 6,200 new cases as Swiss hospitals reach breaking point

On 3 November 2020, Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) reported 6,216 new cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection over 24 hours, bringing the total to 182,303.

© Stefan Amer | Dreamstime.comThe number of tests over the last 24 hours was lower than last week. On Friday 30 October 2020, 38,211 tests were conducted with a positivity rate of 24%. Over the last 24 hours, 22,177 tests were conducted with a positivity rate of 28%. Lower test numbers and higher positivity suggest that the recent 24-hour figure could be missing significantly more actual cases than the numbers recorded over the weekend.

The number of Covid patients in Swiss hospitals continues to rise. Over the 72 hours to Monday, a daily average of 165 Covid patients were admitted to Swiss hospitals. Over the last

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Covid: Swiss government announces new measures

On 28 October 2020, after a record number of 8,616 daily new cases of infection were reported, Switzerland’s federal government announced new measures to fight against the spread of Covid-19. These rules come into effect from Thursday 29 October 2020.

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Covid: UK study suggests natural immunity short lived

Levels of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies wane quite rapidly after infection, researchers from Imperial College London have found. The team, which measured SARS-CoV-2 antibody levels in 365,000 people between June and September saw a decline of 26% in the number testing positive for antibodies.

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Should Covid be left to spread among the young and healthy?

Recent petitions from two groups of scientists clash over herd immunity. Тhe Great Barrington Declaration On 4 October 2020, three public health experts launched the “Great Barrington Declaration”, a petition calling on governments to protect the vulnerable and allow the young and healthy to live their lives without restrictions.

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Coronavirus: contact tracers now unable to cope in parts of Switzerland

In parts of Switzerland contact tracers can no longer cope with the rising numbers of cases, according the newspaper SonntagsZeitung. Contact tracers have the task of identifying who has been in contact with people testing positive for SARS-CoV-2, contacting those people and requesting they test and self isolate in order to break chains of infection.

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Women 62 percent of doctors under 40 in Switzerland

At the end of 2018, there were 23,000 doctors in Switzerland, according to a recently published study. Overall, 41% of these doctors were women. Among doctors aged 60-64, the percentage was 28%. However, 62% of doctors under 40 were women, a figure which partly reflects the higher numbers of women graduating from Swiss universities.

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Confidence in vaccine safety remains low in Switzerland

Compared to much of the world, confidence in the safety of vaccines is low in Switzerland, according to a recently published study. In 2015, only 30% of Swiss questioned strongly agreed that vaccines were safe, ranking it 133rd out of 149 nations in terms of confidence in vaccine safety.

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Coronavirus: no quarantine for people entering Switzerland from border regions

On 11 September 2020, Switzerland’s federal government announced that people entering Switzerland after spending time in regions next to the country’s national borders will be exempted from mandatory quarantine requirements should those regions end up with high rates of infection. Cross-border worker are already exempted from quarantine requirements.

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Switzerland adds 10 more nations to its compulsory quarantine list

On 7 September 2020, Switzerland added to its list of quarantine countries. People entering Switzerland from 55 nations must now quarantine for 10 days. On 7 September 2020, 10 nations were added to the list. These include Croatia, French Polynesia, Guyana, Lebanon, Libya, Paraguay, San Marino, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates.

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Coronavirus: UK puts Switzerland back on Quarantine List

Switzerland back on Quarantine List

Travellers from Switzerland, Jamaica and Czech Republic who enter the UK from 4 am on Saturday 29 August 2020, must self-isolate for two weeks, the UK government announced this evening. The UK considers imposing quarantine when a country’s rate of infection exceeds 20 cases per 100,000 people over 7 days.

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Coronavirus: Swiss health authority adds pregnant women to risk list

After a number of recent studies that suggest pregnant women are exposed to higher risks from the SARS-CoV-2 virus, Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) adds them to the list of people vulnerable to Covid-19. The FOPH reached its recent conclusion based on discussions with the Swiss society of gynecology and obstetrics. The society sets out the findings of a number of studies in a report.

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Referendum launched against SwissCovid app

A group in Switzerland has decided to launch a vote against Switzerland’s contact tracing app, an application designed to make it easier to know whether someone has been in contact with someone infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

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Immigration slowdown hits Swiss rents

In 1999, Switzerland signed a deal with the EU allowing free movement of people between Switzerland and the bloc. The deal came into force in 2002. This led to a rise in immigration into Switzerland, which in turn eventually led to rising rents.

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Swiss Unemployment Falls in June 2020

The number unemployed in Switzerland at 30 June 2020, fell 5,709 in June to 159,289, according to the State Secretariat for the Economy (SECO). Switzerland’s unemployment rate fell from 3.4% to 3.2%. However, despite improving on May 2020, the number unemployed was 53,067 (+54.6%) higher than at the end of June 2019.

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Coronavirus: Swiss government makes masks compulsory on public transport

On 1 July 2020, Switzerland’s federal government announced that it would become compulsory to wear masks on public transport from 6 July 2020. Due to the the growing number of people using public transport and a rise in the number of people testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 since mid-June, the Federal Council has decided to make it compulsory for those taking public transport to wear a mask.

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Could Swiss ski resorts face Covid-19 lawsuits?

As the events and decisions surrounding the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus become clearer, fingers are being pointed. A mass lawsuit targeting events in the Austrian resort of Ischgl is looming, according to Bloomberg. Could similar legal action spread to Swiss resorts?

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SwissCovid app now available for download

On 25 June 2020, Switzerland’s contact tracing app, known as SwissCovid, became available for download. Created by a group of specialists at EPFL led by Marcel Salathé, a professor of digital epidemiology, the app allows chains of infection to be traced by informing people if they have been in contact with anyone infected. Countries, like South Korea, that have done a good job of this have been able to quickly isolate infected people and halt the spread of the virus.

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Coronavirus: the rising number of mild cases with symptoms lasting months

Those with mild Covid-19 symptoms are supposed to recover after two weeks. However, a rising number of relatively young people with mild cases report symptoms months later. Johns Hopkins Medicine says that those with mild cases of COVID-19 appear to recover within one to two weeks. For severe cases, recovery may take six weeks or more.

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Coronavirus: national lockdown not part of Switzerland’s second wave response plan

Switzerland’s federal government is against imposing nationwide restrictions to slow the spread of a second wave on infections, according to the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper. The federal government plan, which is under development, is more regional than the response to the first wave of infections and focuses decision making power at the cantonal level, reported the newspaper.

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Coronavirus: latest antibody study suggests 10.8 percent of Geneva infected in first wave

A recently published update to the ongoing study in Geneva to assess the extent of SARS-CoV-2 infection suggests 10.8% of the population may have been infected in the first wave of infections. The study, which tests a sample of the population over time for IgG SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, started in early April 2020. The latest figures come from the fifth week of testing, which was concluded on 9 May 2020. 

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Swiss parliament votes in favour of flight tax

A majority of Switzerland’s parliament voted in favour of introducing a tax on flights departing from Switzerland. 132 voted in favour of the tax, with 65 against. The tax would range from CHF 30 to CHF 120 depending on the distance and class of travel, according to 20 Minutes.

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Coronavirus: WHO changes advice on masks

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently changed its advice on face masks. It now recommends healthy people wear them in public when social distancing is not possible, stating that they could provide a barrier for potentially infectious droplets.

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Coronavirus: Switzerland to reopen borders with EU, EFTA and UK on 15 June

Switzerland recently announced that it will lift existing entry restrictions with all EU and EFTA nations and the UK on 15 June 2020. In mid-May the Swiss government announced plans to fully reopen borders with France, Germany and Austria. On 2 June 2020, it decided to hold off on a full reopening of borders with Italy despite Italy’s decision to fully reopen its borders with Switzerland on 3 June 2020.

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Coronavirus: number of tests stagnates in Switzerland

The number of daily new cases has remained low in Switzerland throughout May. The highest number of new cases over this period was recorded on 1 May (119). The latest daily number, published on 29 May, was 31 new daily cases. Since the beginning of May the number has been as low as 10.

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Coronavirus: new infections in Switzerland remain low

Over the last week there have been an average of 15 new SARS-CoV-2 cases a day. The first confirmed case in Switzerland was recorded on 24 February 2020. In the week that followed the number of new daily infections rose to 31. Another week later the number of new daily cases was 192.

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Italy set to reopen borders with Switzerland from 3 June 2020

Italy is preparing to reopen its borders with the rest of Europe, according to the newspaper La Repubblica. A draft law on new rules was published on 15 May 2020 by the Italian Council of Ministers. It provides for the possibility of allowing entry to Italy from 3 June 2020 without requiring those arriving from certain countries to quarantine for 14 days. The countries include EU nations and Schengen members, including Switzerland and Monaco.

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Swiss government reveals more on Covid-19 tracing app

On 13 May 2020, Switzerland’s government published more information on the Swiss Proximity Tracing App (Swiss PT), an app designed to slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2. Developed by teams at EPFL and ETHZ, the app uses Bluetooth to detect when your phone comes within two metres of another phone or device with the app. It then records the contact as an anonymous key and the duration of contact, flagging any close contact longer than 15 minutes.

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Coronavirus: the dangers of singing

As Switzerland reopens, the details around how SARS-CoV-2 spreads becomes more relevant to everyday life. Matthias Egger, the head of Switzerland’s Covid-19 task force, stresses the importance of continuing to follow social distancing and hygiene rules.

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Unemployment up sharply in April in Switzerland

The unemployment rate in Switzerland rose to 3.3% in April 2020, up from 2.9% the month before, a rise of nearly 14%. By 30 April 2020, there were 153,413 people registered as unemployed at Switzerland’s regional placement offices. Young workers were the hardest hit. Unemployment among those aged 15 to 24 rose by 18.1% compared to March 2020 and by 61.3% compared to April 2019.

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Coronavirus: Swiss schools and other establishments set to reopen

On 29 April 2020, Switzerland’s government announced plans to allow schools and other establishments to reopen on Monday 11 May 2020. From 11 May 2020, shops, restaurants, markets, museums, libraries, primary and lower secondary schools and sports training centres will be allowed to reopen. In addition, public transport will operate according to the standard timetable, announced the government.

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Coronavirus: the age difference behind lower Swiss death rate

Switzerland’s Covid-19 death rate has been lower than much of the rest of Europe. A lower infection rate among older people appears to be one reason. The rates of deaths among those either recovering or dying have been particularly high in Belgium (40%), France (34%) and Italy (31%).

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Coronavirus: numbers in Switzerland slow further

By 14 April 2020, a total 25,936 cases of Covid-19 infection had been recorded in Switzerland, a rise of 3,683 over the preceding 7 days. However, despite the continued rise in cases there are indications measures to slowdown the spread of the virus are working.

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Coronavirus: loss of smell indicates “very high likelihood” of infection

While there is currently no scientifically proven link between anosmia (loss of smell) and Covid-19, more and more experts are saying the symptom is a strong indicator. Gilbert Greub, head of the microbiology department at the CHUV hospital in Lausanne, is one such expert. “Given the widespread Covid-19 epidemic, I think that everyone who has a problem tasting or a problem smelling has a very high likelihood of testing positive and should be tested.

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Coronavirus: deciding who gets a ventilator

By 31 March 2020, there were around 326 Covid-19 patients in intensive care and 228 on ventilators in Switzerland. It is estimated that there are around 750 ventilators across the country. If the health system reaches overload, medical professionals in Switzerland might be forced to make the kinds of difficult decisions being made in neighbouring France and Italy.

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Coronavirus: the fallibility of fatality rates

Naturally, many of us would like to know the fatality rate of Covid-19. But at this stage it is guesswork. Here are some of the problems with two of the most popular fatality rates. The most popular calculation involves dividing the number deaths by the number of cases. Epidemiologists call this a naive case fatality rate (CFR). There are two ways to calculate this rate.

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Coronavirus: a test to see if you’ve had it is in the pipeline

Coronavirus testing has been rationed in Switzerland, reserving it for high risk more severe cases, although doctors retain discretion to have anyone tested. It is likely those that have been infected and have recovered will have immunity and no longer be able to act as carriers of the disease.

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Coronavirus: infection rates in some Swiss cantons now higher than Lombardy

Lombardy, the region in northern Italy where the coronavirus outbreak first took off in Europe, now has fewer per capita cases testing positive for the virus than some Swiss cantons. Recent data from Italy show there were 179 cases per 100,000 in Lombardy. In Ticino, Switzerland’s worst affected canton, there were 329 cases per 100,000. Geneva (231) and Vaud (211) had Switzerland’s next highest rates.

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Coronavirus: estimating the death toll in Switzerland

COVID-19 has hit the world fast and we are racing to understand it, while struggling to come to terms with its deadly impact. When trying to estimate the impact, it is tempting to take the current number of deaths and divide it by the number of reported cases. However, the resulting percentage is meaningless.

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Is Ibuprofen dangerous for those infected with the coronavirus?

Ibuprofen belongs to a family of drugs known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. On 14 March 2020, Olivier Véran, France’s health minister Tweeted that taking anti-inflammatory medicine “could be an aggravating factor” for those infected with Covid-19, and recommended paracetamol for those with a fever.

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Coronavirus: Swiss hospitals have around 750 breathing ventilators

One of the biggest challenges during the coronavirus outbreak will be ensuring there are enough qualified staff and equipment to keep the worst affected patients alive. Thierry Fumeaux, head of the Swiss Society of Intensive Medicine, told RTS there are 82 intensive care units (ICU) across Switzerland. These have a combined 850 places, of which 750 are equipped with breathing equipment. It is not clear how many of these places are currently available.

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Swiss National Bank to distribute 4 billion francs of profit

In 2019, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) made a profit of around CHF 49 billion. These profits came mainly from the rising value of the assets on the bank’s balance sheet. In 2019, the value of its holdings of foreign currency and gold rose substantially. When combined with interest, dividend income and gains on shares total profits for the year were CHF 49 billion.

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Potential relief for some Swiss renters

Every three months the rate of interest used to benchmark Swiss rents is reviewed. If it goes down some renters have the right to request a decrease in rent. This time the reference rate fell from 1.50% to 1.25%.
The last time it dropped was 2 June 2017 when it fell to 1.5%. The rate is based on the average Swiss mortgage rate over three months.

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Portugal set to end tax holidays for foreign residents

Recently, the government of Portugal said it was looking at introducing a tax on foreigners residing in the country on special tax holidays, according to the magazine Bilan. Currently, foreigners moving to Portugal who spend at least 180 days a year in the country pay no income tax for a period of 10 years under a scheme that was launched 11 years ago.

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Poverty rate falls slightly in Switzerland

In 2018, the percentage of the population in Switzerland living below the poverty line fell from 8.2% (2017) to 7.9%, returning to the same level as it was in 2010. Most affected by poverty were those aged under 18 (9.6%) and those aged over 64 (13.7%).

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Switzerland moves closer to taxing flights

A Swiss parliamentary commission, tasked with looking at the introduction of an environmental tax on flights departing from Switzerland, recently voted in favour a such a tax. A majority of 17 to 8 members voted in favour of the move. The tax would range from CHF 30 to CHF 120 per passenger depending on flight distance and class.

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Swiss National Bank expects annual profit of 49 billion francs

According to provisional calculations, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) expects to make a profit of around CHF 49 billion in 2019. Most of this comes from the rising value of the SNB’s foreign currency positions (+CHF 40 billion) and a valuation gain on gold holdings (+CHF 6.9 billion).

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Facebook’s Libra has failed, says Switzerland’s president

Facebook’s plan to launch its digital currency Libra is unlikely to succeed Ueli Maurer, Switzerland’s president, told SRF. Maurer doesn’t think central banks will accept the basket of currencies underpinning the cryptocurrency. “The project, in this form, has thus failed” he said.

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Swiss government makes it easier to get paid for work done on the train

From 1 January 2020, it will be much easier for Switzerland’s 38,000 federal government employees to get paid for working on the train, according to the newspaper Tages-Anzeiger. Until the beginning of this year, working on the train on the way to and from work was only rewarded in exceptional instances and even then it was only partially counted.

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Unemployment in Geneva higher than neighbouring France

In December last year, the Observatoire statistique transfrontalier published unemployment figures for the French region surrounding Geneva. French unemployment calculations follow the method used by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which include all job seekers, according to Tribune de Genève.

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Swiss visit doctor less often than most of Europe

In 2017, an average Swiss resident visited a medical professional 4.32 times, according to data recently published by Eurostat. Only residents of Denmark (4.30), Sweden (2.77) and Cyprus (2.09) went to see a doctor less often. The average number of visits across those European countries with 2017 data was 6.84.

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Money for nothing – Swiss government gets paid to borrow

Imagine borrowing CHF 105,500 but only having to repay CHF 100,000 in 20 years time, including interest. You’d get an interest free loan plus an extra CHF 5,500 to keep. This is what the Swiss federal government will do on 20 December 2019, except it will borrow CHF 196.6 million by issuing zero interest bonds at a price of 105.5%. The government will generate a CHF 10.25 million windfall.

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Another month of falling prices in Switzerland

Swiss prices fell by 0.1% in November 2019, the sixth time in 12 months. But not everything is cheaper. Prices fell in December 2018 (-0.3%), January 2019 (-0.3), July (-0.5), September (-0.1), October (-0.2%) and November 2019 (-0.1). When combined with the low inflation experienced in the other 6 months the 12-month price drop is -0.1%.

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Some Swiss import duties could be axed

Swiss import duties on a number of industrial products might disappear if a plan put forward by Guy Parmelin, Switzerland’s economic’s minister, is approved by the National Council, Switzerland’s parliament. The changes are expected to benefit businesses and consumers by around CHF 860 million a year. On the other hand, the government will miss out on collecting roughly CHF 500 million a year of revenue from import duties.

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Switzerland’s skilled worker shortage worsens

At 30 September 2019, Switzerland had 79,000 job vacancies and 225,000 unemployed workers. This combination of unemployment and job vacancies can largely be explained by two things. The first is frictional unemployment, the period spent in between jobs. This typically increases when there is a lot of job changing. The second is a skills mismatch. Employers cannot find the skills they need among those seeking work.

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1 in 10 Swiss hospitals facing financial difficulty

Around one hospital in ten in Switzerland could end up in financial difficultly, according to a report by PWC. In addition, 37 of the 44 hospitals surveyed will not be profitable enough to remain competitive over the next five to ten years, predict the authors of the report.

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Number of jobs reaches all-time high in Switzerland

Unemployment rose in the third quarter of 2019, however, there have never been more jobs in Switzerland. The total number of jobs in Switzerland rose to 5.137 million at 30 September 2019, a level never seen before. The figure was 1.3% higher than at 30 September 2018 and 0.3% higher than 30 June 2019.

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Federal Council paves way for VAT refund on Billag fee

At its meeting on 27 November 2019, the Federal Council set out its plan for the refund of value-added tax (VAT) on Switzerland’s radio and television licence, formerly known as Billag. Between 2010 and 2015, VAT was charged on Swiss television and radio licences.

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French-speaking cantons biggest winners from next year’s fiscal transfers

The amount of money paid by “rich” cantons to “poor” ones will rise by CHF 61 million to CHF 5.3 billion in 2020, according to a recent government press release. The only French-speaking canton paying will be Geneva. All of the rest will see the sums they receive rise compared to 2019. In 2020, Geneva will pay CHF 275 million, down slightly from the CHF 300 million it paid in 2019.

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Swiss government cuts drug prices by 100 million francs

Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) recently announced it had reduced the price Swiss healthcare providers and patients will pay for 257 drugs by 16.3%. These lower prices, which take affect on 1 December 2019, are expected to save CHF 100 million annually.

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Swiss remain the richest in 2019

According to a recent report by the bank Credit Suisse, the Swiss are worth more on average than the residents of any other nation. The bank’s annual Global Wealth Report calculates average net worth per Swiss adult to be US$ 564,653 (CHF 560,643) at mid-2019. The median figure was US$ 227,891 (CHF 226,273).

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Raising Switzerland’s retirement age – big differences of opinion

Switzerland’s government has long discussed the importance of raising the retirement age to ensure the financial viability of the pension system. However, it is not clear whether voters would support such a plan. According to a survey by Deloitte, an accounting and consulting company, raising the official retirement age might not find majority support among Swiss voters. Some groups are firmly against the idea.

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Referendum to ban tobacco advertising in Switzerland reaches 100,000 signatures

An initiative demanding a ban on tobacco advertising has collected 109,969 valid signatures, more than the 100,000 minimum required to launch a popular vote, according to RTS. The planned vote entitled: “Yes to the protection of children and young people against tobacco advertising” demands the federal government ban all forms of tobacco advertising towards children and young people.

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Swiss upper house calls on executive to end marriage tax penalty

In Switzerland, some married couples pay more tax than unmarried ones, something referred to as the marriage tax penalty. The issue has been doing the rounds of the halls of Switzerland’s government for around 30 years. On 28 February 2016, a vote to change the current system was narrowly rejected by 50.8% of voters.

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Vaud’s 2020 budget – higher spending, higher taxes

The Swiss canton of Vaud has managed to balance its 2020 budget with a small surplus of 76,000 francs. This is the 14th time in row that the canton’s budget has been in the black. At the same time planned spending is up by 2.43%, well ahead of Swiss inflation – prices were lower in September 2019 than they were in September 2018.

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Number of people with debt problems rises in Switzerland

The number of people with debts in default continues to rise in Switzerland. At the end of July 2019, 561,000 people, 6.5% of the population, were unable to service their debts according to the price comparison website comparis.ch. The figures, based on data from the credit analysis company CRIF include those who have failed to make repayments and are being pursued by creditors or have declared bankruptcy.

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No rise is health premiums expected in 10 Swiss cantons in 2020

Every year, Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) gives projections of compulsory health insurance premiums for the coming year. After years of rising premiums, many will be relieved by the small projected increases for 2020. Across all of Switzerland, the average premium is expected to rise 0.2% to CHF 315.40 a month.

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Geneva’s 2020 budget 590 million francs short

Next year the canton of Geneva plans to spend CHF 9,143 million. However, forecast revenue is only CHF 8,553 million, leaving a shortfall of CHF 590 million, according to a cantonal government press release. The canton’s finances have been hit hard from both sides.

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Swiss upper house rejects parental leave plan

Switzerland’s government been grappling with the politics of extending universal tax-funded parental leave for a number of years. Some are pushing for paternity leave for fathers and others for a shared pool of parental leave, which mums and dads can apportion.

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Tobacco consumption costs Switzerland 5 billion francs a year

Health care in Switzerland is funded by a mixture of taxes and health insurance premiums. Much of the insurance premiums paid are compulsory with no discounts offered to non-smokers. According to figures recently published by the Swiss association for smoking, the annual direct medical costs of smoking are CHF 3 billion (2015), or CHF 350 per person.

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Housing vacancies rise in 20 Swiss cantons

Recent figures show an annual 4.2% rise in the number of vacant homes in Switzerland, extending a trend that started 10 years ago, according to the Federal Statistical Office. At the start of June 2019, there were 75,323 vacant homes, representing 1.66% of Switzerland’s total stock of homes.

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New 100 Swiss Franc Note Coming Soon

The note’s design is inspired by Switzerland’s tradition of humanitarianism, represented on the note by water. The note remains blue but is much smaller than the existing one, making it easier to fit into wallets.

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Swiss Trade with Much of South America should Soon be Tarif Free

A deal agreed between EFTA and the South American Mercosur bloc, which includes Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay, with a combined population of 260 million, is close to signing. EFTA includes Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. Under the deal, 95% of Switzerland’s CHF 3.6 million annual exports to the bloc would be tarif free.

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Swiss unemployment down in second quarter of 2019

In the second quarter of 2019, the percentage of Switzerland’s population working rose by 1.1% and the percentage unemployed fell to 4.2%, based on the higher International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) measure. In the second quarter of 2019, 5.1 million people were working in Switzerland, 60% of the population. The number working rose 1.1% compared to the previous year, particularly among women (+2.0%).

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Swiss health insurers to send patients to pharmacy first

Swiss healthcare is typically ranked the world’s second most expensive, as a percentage of GDP, after the US. In Switzerland, compulsory health insurance premiums cover 37% of healthcare costs. Much of the rest is covered by tax payers and non-reimbursable out-of-pocket payments by individuals.

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Swiss taxis Europe’s most expensive

In a recent comparison of taxi fares across Europe, Geneva and Zurich were the most expensive. In the study, which focused on the total cost of a taxi journey from the airport to the centre of town, Geneva (€36 – CHF40) and Zurich (€63 – CHF70) fared better than Milan (€105) and London (€104), which had the highest total journey costs. However, this is only because Zurich and Geneva airports are close to the city centre.

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Swiss Central Bank under Pressure as Franc Rises

Swiss Franc Exchange Rate

Yesterday, the Swiss franc reached its highest level against the euro in two years. The EUR/CHF exchange rate reached 1.097 on 24 July 2019, a rate not seen since early 2017. Upward pressure on the franc is partly being driven by expectations of interest rate cuts by eurozone and US central banks. In addition, the franc is considered a safe haven currency and typically rises when global risk perceptions rise.

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Number below poverty line rises in Switzerland

In Switzerland, the revenue poverty line is income of CHF 27,108 (US$ 27,490) a year for someone living alone and CHF 47,880 (US$ 48,550) for a family of four. In 2017, the percentage of Switzerland’s population living below the poverty line was 8.2% or 675,000 people. In 2016, the percentage was 7.6%.

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Switzerland number one for expat pay and stability

In 2019, Switzerland came top overall in a ranking of destinations for expatriates to live and work, moving up from eighth last year. Singapore, which had held the top spot for four years in the HSBC’s list of the best countries for expatriates, dropped to second place.

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Swiss health insurance deductibles to remain changeable annually

One idea for containing rising healthcare costs was to remove the possibility of changing health insurance deductibles every year, making it possible only every three years. If people are able to switch from high to low deductibles annually then they can save money by opting for a high deductible one year, while postponing visits to the doctor until the following year when they opt for a low one.

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A family apartment in Geneva close to twice the price of one in St. Gallen

On average, renting a 4.5 room apartment of 100 to 110 m2 costs CHF 3,820 a month in Geneva. The same apartment in the Swiss city of St. Gallen costs CHF 2,004, 52% of the price, according to a report on rents in Switzerland’s ten main cities by the price comparison website Comparis. For an apartment of this size, Geneva (3,820) is the most expensive, followed by Zurich (3,073), Lausanne (2,850), Basel (2,660), Bern (2,600), Luzern (2,430), Winterthur (2,400), Lugano (2.110), Biel (2,050) and St. Gallen (2,004).

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Income inequality declines in Switzerland

In 2016, before the effects of taxes and welfare, the highest earning 20% of Swiss households made on average 40.8 times what an average household in the bottom 20 percent made, an inequality measure known as the S80/S20. However, after taxes and welfare, including low income support, health insurance subsidies, pensions and disability benefits, the same income ratio fell to 4.4.

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Steep drop in thefts in Switzerland

Comparing 2018 to 2012, thefts in Switzerland fell by nearly half, according to the Federal Statistical Office. In 2012, there were a record 219,000 thefts recorded in Switzerland. By 2018, the figure had fallen to 112,000, a drop of 49%.

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Swiss health insurance deductibles to rise automatically

Today, Switzerland’s parliament decided to bring in a system of regular increases in the deductibles for basic compulsory Swiss health insurance, according to the newspaper Le Matin. However, a plan to raise the the minimum deductible to CHF 500 was rejected by a clear majority.

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Why there is so much egg pasta in Switzerland

Strolling through the pasta aisle of a Swiss supermarket, someone new to Switzerland might conclude that the locals prefer egg pasta over the eggless variety. And, while that might to some extent be true, there is another reason.

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Average Swiss rent barely rises over 7 years

Recently published data show that close to 60% of households in Switzerland rented their home at an average cost of CHF 1,329 per month in 2017. Average monthly rents ranged from CHF 752 for a studio up to CHF 2,323 for 6 rooms or more.

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Swiss unemployment rate rises

There are various ways to measure unemployment. Switzerland’s standard measure looks at the number of people registered with unemployment offices across the country. By this measure Switzerland’s unemployment recently reached a 10 year low of 2.6%. Today, another unemployment measure was published. It shows a 0.1% increase in unemployment over the fourth quarter of 2018 to 4.6% or 227,000 people.

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Switzerland’s federal surplus even larger than expected

In October 2018, government number crunchers revised Switzerland’s federal forecast budget surplus up from CHF 0.3 billion to CHF 2.5 billion. Today, Bern announced that provisional calculations for 2018 now show a surplus of CHF 2.9 billion, CHF 0.4 billion more than last year’s revised figure. The increase was driven by strict spending discipline and higher than expected receipts, according to the press release.

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Nearly Half of Swiss Admit to Stealing


Either at work, at a restaurant, on public transport or in a shop, nearly half of Swiss admit to stealing, according to a survey by moneyland.ch. 49% of the 1,500 questioned in the survey admitted to pocketing something without paying.

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Half of Swiss happy with their finances

A recent survey suggests that half of Swiss residents are satisfied with their financial situation. 6% said they have trouble making ends meet. In addition, 28% expect their finances to improve in 2019. Fewer women (25%) are optimistic than men (33%). 18% expect their finances to worsen and 54% expect no change.

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Swiss unemployment lowest in 10 years

Switzerland’s unemployment rate, now 2.6%, hasn’t been so low for 10 years, according to the latest figures from Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). A weakening of the Swiss franc helped boost Switzerland’s economic growth, creating more jobs.

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Question of the week: do we still need a standard retirement age?

Reaching the official retirement age1 is an important milestone for many people. Some look forward to it while others dread it. Some dreading it would prefer to continue working either because they enjoy their work or would like the extra income. Some feel they are being systematically and unfairly labelled too old to work.

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Police Warn of fake Swiss Franc Notes

Swiss Francs

Since the beginning of December 2018 more and more counterfeit 100 Swiss franc notes have been appearing in the Swiss canton of Valais in and around Sion and Conthey. The fake notes, which the local Police say can be spotted if compared to real ones, have been making their way into circulation via shopping centres, kiosks and service stations in the Sion and Conthey region.

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No Relief for Swiss Renters as Mortgage Rates Barely Move

Apartments Zurich

Every three months the rate of interest used to set Swiss rents is reviewed. If it goes down some renters have the right to request a decrease in rent. This time it remained at 1.50%. The last time it dropped was 2 June 2017 when it fell to 1.5%, its lowest level since 2008.

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Switzerland’s electronic motorway vignette to be optional


This week, Switzerland’s Federal Council decided the planned electronic motorway vignette will be optional. Drivers will be able to choose. Anyone wanting to drive on Switzerland’s motorway network must first buy a vignette, a road tax sticker introduced in 1985, which must be displayed on the windscreen. It currently costs CHF 40.

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Swiss Unemployment Benefits Cut for a one-day filing delay


Switzerland’s unemployment benefits might be generous but they are strictly policed, as one recipient recently discovered. For a period of up to approximately two years after losing a job, most workers in Switzerland receive 70% of their former salary up to a maximum of CHF 88,200 a year – the amount paid varies depending on circumstances1.

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New Swiss broadcasting fee starts next year

After a referendum in March 2018 threatened to axe Switzerland’s costly broadcasting fee, the government put forward a counter proposal, which was adopted when 71.6% of voters voted to keep the fee. On 1 January 2019, the lower fee contained in the government’s plan will come into force. Next year, instead of CHF 451, each household will need to cough up CHF 365.

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Investigating suspected welfare cheats – where to draw the line


On 25 November 2018, Swiss will vote on whether to accept laws allowing detectives to uncover welfare fraud. Currently, there is nothing specific in Swiss law covering the practice. In the past, investigators have been used to gather evidence on disability and accident beneficiaries. Between 2009 and 2016, detectives were used on around 220 investigations a year, of which around two thirds were found guilty of fraud.

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Swiss Divorce Rates Continue to Climb


By 2017, 40.5% of those married in 1987 were divorced, compared to 33.2% of those married in 1977 and 24.7% of those married in 1967. Divorce in Switzerland starts early. 9.4% of those married in 1987 were divorced after five years, as were 8.1% of those married in 1977 and 4.8% of those who tied the knot in 1967.

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Swiss Health Insurance Costs to Rise Further in 2019

Health Insurance

More bad news for Swiss household budgets was released today for residents of all but three Swiss cantons. Health insurance premiums in 2019 will be on average 1.2% higher than in 2018 across Switzerland as a whole. However, within this figure there are significant cantonal variations.

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Vaud to cap health insurance premiums at 12 percent of income

Starting in September 2018, health insurance premiums in excess of 12% of income in the canton of Vaud will be covered by the government. From the beginning of 2019, this percentage will be reduced to 10%, increasing the number of people who qualify and the size of the subsidies, according to the newspaper Le Matin.

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Swiss study recommends 38 weeks of parental leave

Mum and Dad

This week, a government commission gave its verdict on the vote, recommending two weeks of paternity leave instead of the four set out in the referendum’s text. Their commission’s main concerns are centred on the impact on companies and the cost of funding it.

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The secrets of the new 200 Swiss franc note

Franc Swiss note

Switzerland began updating its notes starting with the 50 franc note in April 2016. It then issued the new 20 franc note in May 2017, and the new 10 in October 2017. The newest note to grace Swiss wallets, pockets and purses is the 200 franc note, which was launched on 22 August 2018.

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Majority favours later retirement for women, according to survey

In Switzerland, the official retirement age for women is 64, a year earlier than it is for men. A poll by gfs.bern shows that around two thirds are in favour of raising the retirement age of women to 65. Only 16% are against the idea, with a further 18% somewhat against it. Men (78%) are more in favour of the change than women (54%), according to the newspaper 20 Minutes.

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TV Recording could be under threat in Switzerland


With TV recording there’s no need to miss programmes just because they’re on at the wrong time. And, when it’s time to watch them, it’s easy to fast forward through the adverts, something that can’t be done when watching live. In Switzerland, television recording is offered by big distributers, such as Swisscom, Sunrise and UPC. Broadcasters don’t provide it.

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Swiss VAT might rise to fund lower company tax rates

Historically, Switzerland has offered certain foreign companies special preferential tax deals in order to attract them. In response to international pressure, the current system is to be phased out replacing preferential tax rates with lower universal ones in the hope that these companies will stay.

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Swiss Offshore Wealth Management Sector still World’s Largest by far


A report by The Boston Consulting Group highlights the size of Switzerland’s personal offshore wealth management sector. Total personal offshore wealth grew by 6% to reach US$8.2 trillion in 2017. US$2.3 trillion (28%) of this was managed in Switzerland. The top three offshore centres: Switzerland ($2.3 trillion), Hong Kong ($1.1 trillion) and Singapore ($0.9 trillion) made up more than half (52%) of the total.

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Vaud Plans Tax Cuts


The residents of Vaud are among the highest taxed in Switzerland. In 2016, a single person in Lausanne earning CHF 100,000 paid CHF 16,050 in cantonal and communal tax on top of CHF 1,840 of federal tax. This was the fourth highest across all of Switzerland’s 26 cantonal capitals, and almost triple Zug, the lowest, where the figure was CHF 5,750 – see chart below.

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No relief for Swiss renters

Every three months the rate of interest used to set Swiss rents is reviewed. If it goes down some renters have the right to request a decrease in rent. This time it remained at 1.50%. The last time it dropped was 1 June 2017 when it fell to its lowest level since 2008.

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Fribourg – moves to axe government pensions for life


Switzerland’s government is working hard to find ways to fix a looming state pension shortfall. Two politicians in the canton of Fribourg have decided to seek savings by attempting to cut lifetime government pensions granted after short stints in the job, according to the newspaper 20 Minutes.

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Switzerland’s vote to change its monetary system – sensible or silly?

Swiss franc

Sometimes Swiss voters are presented with questions that only specialists are equipped to answer. The vote on 10 June 2018 to change their monetary system appears to be one of these. On the surface it appears simple. Upon closer inspection it contains much complexity and uncertainty, compounded by a widespread misunderstanding of how the financial system works – banks do not act simply as intermediaries, lending out the deposits that savers place with them, nor do they multiply central bank money.

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Swiss Rail drops plan to put Wi-Fi in trains

Swiss Rail wifi

Swiss Rail has dropped plans to install Wi-Fi in its trains, according to the newspaper Le Matin. After a survey revealed that customers would only use on-board Wi-Fi it was free, the company decided there was no justifiable way to cover the cost, according the the newspaper. Swiss Rail is not prepared to bear the costs the mobile operators would charge them for the service and cannot not justify adding the cost to ticket prices.

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Disability welfare – fraud investigations expected to save 170 million

By January 2018, the number receiving disability welfare in Switzerland had dropped to 217,200, 40,300 fewer than in 2006 when the number reached a record 257,500. Switzerland’s Federal Social Insurance Office (FSIO) attributes the reduction to an occupational rehabilitation programme started in 2008, and disability welfare fraud investigations.

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Child care tax deductions set to rise in Switzerland

Switzerland’s Federal Council, or cabinet, plans to increase the maximum annual deduction for child care costs to CHF 25,000 per child, up from CHF 12,100. This would allow parents to deduct up to this amount from their income for federal tax purposes but would not affect canton and commune taxes. Deductions could not exceed the amount spent.

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Internships – Switzerland’s Young Socialists caught preaching one thing and practicing another

Intern Young Socialists

In collaboration with the Swiss union Unia, Switzerland’s Young Socialists have launched a protest against the exploitation of interns. To get on the career ladder, many young people feel compelled to take internships offering little or no pay. The Young Socialists are demanding interns be better paid. Recent data from the Federal Statistical Office shows that 23% of young workers (15-24) are on short-term contracts, 41% of them interns.

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Switzerland most expensive for meat


Switzerland has the world’s most expensive meat according to a survey compiled by Caterwings in Germany. The survey, which looks at meat prices in 52 countries, ranks Swiss prices at the top across all meat categories. On average, Swiss shoppers pay 142% more than the average across all meat categories.

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Some Swiss train fares to fall in June

Swiss Rail

This week, ch-direct, an association of public transport providers that sets ticket prices, announced there would be no ticket price rises in 2019. Instead the prices of some tickets will fall slightly on 1 June 2018. The price small cuts on standard fares in June relate to the shift from 8.0% to 7.7% VAT at the beginning of the year.

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Taxes – one in seven in some Swiss cantons has unpaid tax

Tax Debt

The cantons of Neuchâtel (14.7%) and Geneva (14.6%) have the highest percentages of taxpayers owing money, according to the newspaper SonntagsBlick. Fribourg (12.6%), Bern (9.5%) and Luzern (6.5%) complete the top-five. Vaud (5.9%), Basel-City (5.5%) and Zurich (2.4%) are further down. Aargau (2.0%) and Uri (1.0%) sit at the bottom with fewest with oustanding tax payments.

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Healthcare costs rise further in Switzerland


Statistics published today show a further rise in Swiss healthcare costs. In 2016, spending on healthcare rose by 3.8% reaching over CHF 80 billion, 12.2% of GDP. In 2015, Swiss healthcare spending was equal to 11.9% of GDP. The challenge of rising healthcare costs is not confined to Switzerland. In the UK in 2015, healthcare costs rose 3.6% to reach 9.9% of GDP.

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Swiss welfare recipient made to repay 173,000 francs

Swiss Francs

In some parts of Switzerland welfare payments are effectively loans that must be repaid when the recipient’s financial situation improves. According to the Aargauer Zeitung, a welfare recipient in the commune of Klingnau in the canton of Aargau received a bill of 173,000 francs after he came into some money. A windfall of 173,000 francs is rare, according to Rolf Walker, head of administration at the commune.

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Food consumes far less of Swiss budgets than it did 25 years ago

Swiss Food Budget

Comparing the most recent statistics on Swiss consumer inflation to those in 1993 reveals a steep drop in the percentage of spending allocated to food. When statisticians calculate consumer price rises they look at the prices of a standard basket of goods. In 1993, food and non-alcoholic beverages made up 14.3% of the value of this standard basket. By 2018, the percentage had fallen to 10.4%, a 27% drop.

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Swiss government set to remove ‘mariage tax penalty’

Marriage Tax Switzerland

In Switzerland, married couples file one combined tax return. Because tax rates rise in line with income it means that second incomes of married couples are taxed at a higher rate than those of single cohabitating ones. Those campaigning to have this changed argue that it is unfair and acts as a disincentive for second income earners.

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Raising Switzerland’s retirement age – like death and taxes

Retirement Switzerland

Last week, State Councillor Peter Hegglin (PDC/CVP) withdrew his motion demanding Switzerland’s retirement age automatically rise with life expectancy. He argues that Switzerland urgently needs to find a way to ensure the financial health of its pension system and raising the retirement age is the main way to do this.

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Switzerland’s parliament rejects plan to cut health insurance discounts


Switzerland has a system of compulsory health insurance. Residents must choose an insurer and pay. Those who don’t are automatically signed up and sent a bill. Other than shopping around, choosing a policy with an excess, a sum that must be covered out of your own pocket before the insurance kicks in, is one of the few ways to reduce your premium.

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Switzerland – a definition of middle class

Iakov Filimonov

A recent survey calculates 60.1% of Switzerland’s population was middle class in 2015, a figure that has remained broadly stable since 1998, reaching its highest in 2009 (61.3%) and lowest in 2013 (56.8%). But what is middle class in Switzerland? According to Switzerland’s Federal Statistical Office, it is anyone living in a household with a gross income between 70% and 150% of the gross median income.

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Swiss federal finances – surplus of billions in 2017

© Jean-michel Feinen | Dreamstime.com

While many national governments, such as the US and UK, regularly spend more than they collect, Switzerland managed a CHF 2.8 billion surplus in 2017. In addition, CHF 2 billion of withholding tax is expected, which would push the surplus up to CHF 4.8 billion.

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Vaud – vote on divisive dental tax and care plan

On 4 March 2018, voters in Vaud will vote on a plan to provide basic universal dental care funded by a tax on salaries. The initiative entitled: Reimbursement of dental care, Pour le remboursement des soins dentaires in French, claims that 10% of the population avoid the dentist because of the cost. They also claim links between poor dental health and cancer, diabetes and premature births. Their plan envisages the creation of a network of polyclinics that would provide basic dental care, but not orthodontics, crowns or dental implants.

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Switzerland tops latest financial secrecy index

Kevkhiev Yury Dreamstime.com

While Switzerland isn’t the most financially secretive nation in the Tax Justice Network’s recently published report, its combination of size and secrecy pushed it into first place, the worst rank in the Financial Secrecy Index 2018. Size is factored in because it measures the damage a nation’s financial secrecy has on the world, says The Tax Justice Network.

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Swiss real estate risk falls two quarters in a row, says UBS

Regions with Price Correction and Exposed Regions

The UBS Swiss Real Estate Bubble Index declined in the last quarter of 2017, the second quarterly decline in a row. Prices are considered balanced when the index reaches zero. Between zero and 1 is considered a price boom, between 1 and 2 is considered at risk and above 2 a bubble. At the end of 2017 the index sat at 1.32, still in the zone where there is a risk of a price correction.

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Swiss cross-border shopping not always worth it, says study


In 2015, Swiss residents made 24 million shopping trips abroad. The average Swiss-based cross-border shopper travelled 69 kilometres to shop in a neighbouring country, 55 kilometres further than they did when shopping in Switzerland, according to a study published by Credit Suisse.

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Push to extend shop opening hours to 8pm in Geneva


The Swiss People’s Party (UDC/SVP) in Geneva wants shopping hours in Geneva to be standardized and extended. In general, French-speaking Switzerland has stricter laws on opening hours that the rest of Switzerland. For example a Migros store in Zurich is open until 9pm every night except Sunday. A similar store in Geneva is only open until 9pm one day a week. The rest of the week it shuts between 6pm and 7:30pm.

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Swiss fact: nearly half of Swiss rental properties owned by individuals

If you rent a home in Switzerland it is more likely to belong to an individual than a big real estate company or pension fund. In 2017, 49% of residential rental properties in Switzerland were owned by individuals, according to Statistics published by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office. The highest rate of rental home ownership by individuals was in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino (71%). The lowest rate was in the Lake Geneva region (41%).

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Swiss rents could fall 10%, says UBS


In a report published today entitled: rents losing altitude, UBS says asking rents for apartments will probably drop by up to 10% over the next three years. Competition in the rental market is getting even fiercer. By mid-2017, 2.4% of all rental apartments were vacant. This level was last exceeded in 1998, when 2.8% of rental apartments stood empty, says the bank.

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Swiss VAT rate to fall in 2018

Toscawhi Dreamstime

The current rate of 8% is set to drop on 1 January 2018. Temporarily increased by 0.4% in 2011 to shore up funding for disability welfare, the rate will revert to 7.7%. The 0.1% difference between the new rate and pre 2011 rate of 7.6% is a new increase that will be used to help finance rail infrastructure.

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How much more you need to earn in Switzerland to breakeven

Recently published international price comparison numbers show just how expensive life is in Switzerland. The price of a standard basket of items, including food, clothing, accommodation, healthcare, transport, education and other regular expenses, was far higher in Switzerland than in the rest of Europe.

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Poverty risk high for Swiss pensioners despite high spending


A recent OECD study, which looks at retirement, shows the relatively large amount spent on pensioners in Switzerland. Switzerland consumes 11% of its GDP on retirees, compared to 9% across OECD nations. Despite this high spending, the risk of poverty is higher in Switzerland than across the OECD. According to the organisation, 19% of those over 64 in Switzerland are at risk of poverty, compared to an OECD average of 13%.

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Airbnb charges some customers more than others, particularly the Swiss


Many Swiss residents travel to neighbouring eurozone countries for their holidays. These countries are close and Swiss francs go far there. However, to get the most out of a strong currency you need a good exchange rate. If a Swiss resident presenting euro cash at a checkout in Germany or France was told they couldn’t pay in euros because they live in Switzerland – “I’m sorry sir but you live in Switzerland, you must pay in Swiss francs at our inflated exchange rate” – few would return. But this is what Airbnb does.

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Swiss village offering to pay people to live there inundated with applications

After the Swiss mountain village of Albinen hatched a plan to pay parents (CHF 25,000 each) and children (CHF 10,000 each) to move there, it has been inundated with applicants. Articles about the offer have been published by Time, The Sunday Times, The Sun, El Pais, and many other publications. Rather than celebrating, the picturesque town’s administration is unhappy. It published a statement on its website accusing the media of false reports that have created unnecessary fuss and confusion.

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Amazon coming to Switzerland

Amazon Prime

According to the newspaper Bilanz, Amazon has signed an agreement with Swiss post to provide rapid customs clearance. The head of postal customs, Felix Stierli, confirmed discussions with the company.A maximum customs clearance time of 3 hours will allow 24-hour delivery, one element of Amazon’s Prime offer.

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Where an average Swiss household spends its income


A recent report from Switzerland Federal Statistical Office shows how an average Swiss household spends its income. In 2015, the mean income was CHF 9,946 per month, including all forms of income and any 13th month payment received at the end of the year.

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Swiss still richest, according to Credit Suisse

1 Franc

The Credit Suisse 2017 Global Wealth Report, shows total global wealth rose 6.4% to USD 280 trillion in 2016, taking it to the its highest level since 2007, before the financial meltdown in 2008. Globally, average wealth per adult was USD 56,540. In Switzerland, the same figure was USD 537,600 (CHF 533,000), close to ten times the global average, placing Switzerland in the lead, if Iceland – with unreliable data – is ignored.

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Health insurance rise in 2018 even higher, according to new calculation

Health Insurance

At the end of September the Swiss government announced an average nationwide health premium rise of 4% in 2018. This government calculation is rather narrow. It only looks at the price of standard compulsory insurance, including accident cover, for an adult with a CHF 300 deductible. Price comparison site bonus.ch calculates that this policy configuration only applies to 18.3% of residents.

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Swiss government says it has a plan to contain healthcare costs

As next year’s health premium bills find their way into Swiss mail or email boxes, the reality of another round of price increases starts to bite. Earlier this week, Switzerland’s Federal Council unveiled 38 measures that will be considered as part of a plan to tackle Switzerland’s rising health costs. A final plan will be presented next spring, according to 20 Minutes.

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End of tax-free online shopping delayed by a year


Last year Switzerland’s government announced plans to change the rules on charging VAT on imported goods. Currently, most things ordered abroad and sent through the post to Switzerland that attract VAT of less than CHF 5, are waived through customs free of charge.

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Swiss government announces TV tax cut ahead of vote to eliminate it

Swiss TV License

On Wednesday, the Federal Council said it will cut Switzerland’s TV-Radio tax from CHF 451 to CHF 365 annually from 2019. According to Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard, the cut is made possible by cost savings from simplifying the system and an increase in the numbers who will pay it – everyone will soon pay, not just those with a receiving device.

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The new 10 Swiss franc note hand mystery


The third in a series of gorgeous new Swiss franc bank notes will be released by the Swiss National Bank (SNB) on October 18th. The 10-franc note keeps its yellow colour, but most everything else in the design and construction is different. What’s most remarkable about the new bank note? Not the 40 centimes or so it takes to make each note, nor that each note is projected to last only about a year. Not the sophisticated security measures, including multiple layers of transparent and inked polymers, paper and other materials, plus other features embedded to combat counterfeiting – all this is done in Zürich by Orell Füssli.

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3 million francs of gold and silver found in Swiss sewers

Call it “dirty money” if you wish, because there’s about CHF 3 million in gold and silver found each year in Swiss sewage. But no one is going to get rich, according to a just-published report by the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag). Recovering the estimated CHF 1.5 million in gold, and the same in silver, that passes through Swiss wastewater each year, wouldn’t be cost-effective, says the report. On the bright side, the concentrations measured pose no environmental or health threat.

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Talk of cutting Swiss pensions paid to foreign residents


According to Le Matin, Jean-Luc Addor, a parliamentarian and member of the Swiss People’s Party (UDC/SVP), wants to know what savings could be made if pensions paid to those abroad were adjusted for living costs in those countries. According to the newspaper, after the rejection of the vote to reform Swiss pensions, Addor said that the rejected reform was aimed at guaranteeing the financing of the pension system over the coming years, as well as maintaining the level of payments.

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Swiss 2018 health premiums unveiled. Brace yourself.

Yesterday, the Swiss government released health insurance premiums for 2018. There are price hikes across the board, particularly in French-speaking Switzerland. Next year, the price of standard compulsory insurance for an adult with a CHF 300 deductible will rise 4% on average. The cost varies by canton. Prices rises range from 1.6% to 6.4%. Health premiums for children will rise by an average of 5%, more than those for adults.

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Survey offers clues to why Swiss rejected last Sunday’s pension reform


A survey by Tamedia offers clues to why 52.7% of Swiss voters rejected the pension reform plan that was put to a vote last Sunday. 20% of those voting “no” thought it was a pseudo reform that didn’t go far enough, while 26% felt it left too much of a burden on younger taxpayers. In 1981, when the life expectancy of an average Swiss woman was 79.2 years, the average time spent collecting the state pension was 15.2 years. Now an average Swiss woman can expect 21.3 years of state pension – life expectancy has risen to 85.3 years and the current official retirement age is 64.

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Swiss want TV tax cut by half, according to survey


Some who move to Switzerland might not be aware that they are almost certainly required to pay one of the world’s highest broadcasting fees. An annual Swiss licence costs CHF 451.10 per household. A successful vote in 2015 changed the rules on who must pay the fee. From 2019, it will be compulsory for anyone with a primary or secondary residence in Switzerland to pay it, effectively making it a tax on all households. At a new lower price of CHF 400 It will become a little cheaper.

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Housing in Zurich and Geneva only moderately overvalued, says UBS

The UBS Global Real Estate Bubble Index 2017 describes housing in Zurich and Geneva as only moderately overvalued. The two Swiss cities rank 6th (Geneva) and 9th (Zurich) in a list of 20 selected global cities.
The top eight: Toronto, Stockholm, Munich, Vancouver, Sydney, London, Hong Kong and Amsterdam are all classified as bubble risk. Only Chicago is undervalued.

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Geneva and Lausanne remain Switzerland’s toughest home markets

Home vacancy rates in Switzerland’s main cities have all risen over the last few years, bringing some hope to those looking for a place to live. The latest 2017 data confirm this trend. While these percentage shifts might appear big, very low vacancy rates underly them. On 1 June 2012, none of these cities had a vacancy rate above 1%. Zurich (0.29%), Bern (0.48%), Basel (0.13%), Lausanne (0.28%) and Geneva (0.21%) were all well below 1% vacancy rates

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Switzerland’s home ownership illusion


When 10-year mortgage interest rates fall to 1%, home ownership becomes a very attractive alternative to renting. A recent report on home ownership shows why home ownership remains out of reach of the average Swiss household despite very low interest rates.The report, by Credit Suisse, says that despite the strong desire for people to own their own home, fewer and fewer households are able to afford them as the years go by.

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Switzerland’s most expensive apartments in Zurich, Maloja and Lavaux

According to data from comparis.ch, Switzerland’s most expensive apartments are found in Zurich, Maloja – home to Saint-Moritz, and Lavaux-Oron. One square metre will cost you CHF 12,250 (US$ 13,000) in Zurich, CHF 11,500 in Maloja and CHF 11,250 in Lavaux-Oron. Lavaux-Oron contains posh parts of Greater Lausanne, such as Lutry, and the UNESCO-listed wine terraces of Lavaux on the shore of Lake Geneva.

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Finding a place to rent getting easier in Switzerland

A recent Credit Suisse report, entitled: Tenants Wanted, says capital continues to flow into Swiss real estate, boosting the supply of rental properties. Against a backdrop of negative interest rates at Switzerland’s central bank, investors continue to plough money into constructing new residential properties. At the same time, declining immigration has hit the demand for rental apartments.

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Number of vacant homes rises again in Vaud

At 1 June 2017, 3,650 empty homes, of which 2,655 were for rent and 995 for sale, were on the market in Vaud. This brought the vacancy rate to 0.9%, a rise of 0.1% compared to the year before. This rise follows an increase of 0.1% in 2016 from a rate of 0.7% in 2015. The market is considered balanced when the vacancy rate reaches 1.5%. The last time it was above this mark in Vaud was in 1999.

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Swiss franc outstrips other currencies over last 117 years

Recent analysis by Credit Suisse, London Business School and Cambridge Judge Business School shows the Swiss franc’s enduring strength. The reports says that for a small country with just 0.1% of the world’s population and less than 0.01% of its land mass, Switzerland punches well above its weight financially.

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Swiss Rail to launch app that lets you pay when you arrive

CFF Smartphone

Swiss Rail plans to test a new smartphone app that will charge you when you arrive. The app will automatically search for the cheapest fare once the journey has ended, promising users the lowest possible fare. The new app, which will be added to Mobile Preview, will be tested in 2018.

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Switzerland not the most expensive in Europe for some mobile packages

Yesterday, the price comparison website Verivox published a study comparing mobile phone costs across 13 european countries. On most measures Switzerland was the most expensive, and by a wide margin. A plan including 100 minutes of talk and 1 Go (gigaoctet1) of data per month costs an average of CHF 25 per month in Switzerland

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Mortgage reference rate falls opening way for Swiss rent cuts

Real Estaes

Every three months the rate of interest used to set Swiss rents is reviewed. If it goes down some renters have the right to request a decrease in rent. This time it dropped 0.25% to 1.50%. The interest rate used to set the reference rate was the average rate on Swiss mortgages at 31 March 2017 of 1.61% which rounds to 1.50% under the rounding rules, which round to the nearest quarter of a percent.

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Swiss healthcare ranked third globally for preventing death

Swiss Healthcare

A study of data from 195 countries from 1990 to 2015 published recently in the medical journal The Lancet, ranks Switzerland’s healthcare system third. The analysis looked at mortality rates from causes that should not be fatal in the presence of effective medical care. It considered both healthcare access and quality and was designed with the aim of normalising for local environmental and behavioural risks.

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Big debts at 18 because parents didn’t pay Swiss health insurance bills

A recent article in the newspaper 20 Minutes highlights the nasty surprise some young people experience when their parents fail to pay their health insurance premiums. Turning 18 is one of life’s key milestones. It corresponds with the end of school and entry into a new world. In Switzerland it is also a health insurance milestone.

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Poor not being pushed out of Swiss cities

It is widely believed that as the price of real estate climbs those on low incomes are forced out of city centres. A study by the University of Geneva, commissioned by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office focused on the period between 2010 and 2014, shows this is not true in Switzerland.

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Swiss have never moved as much as they did in 2015

In Switzerland, more than a million people moved house in 2015, 12.1% of the population. The figure has never be higher, according to a report called Immo-Monitoring published by Wüest Partner. The home moving covered around 490,000 dwellings. Of those who moved, 344,000 stayed in the same commune (Gemeinde) while the other 659,000 changed municipality.

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New 50 Swiss franc note wins international beauty contest

The new 50 franc note, launched last year, was voted the best new bank note in 2016 by the International Bank Note Society, a society founded in 1961. Nearly 120 new banknotes were released worldwide in 2016. The Swiss 50 only narrowly beat the Maldive Islands 1000 Rufiyaa bill, Argentina’s 500 Peso jaguar, and the Royal Bank of Scotland’s 5 Pound first polymer note.

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Fall in Swiss property prices accelerates

Over the year ending 31 March 2017, apartment prices across Switzerland dropped by 6.8%, according to a property price report published by the Zurich-based research and consulting firm Fahrländer Partner FPRE.

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A fifth of Swiss can’t cope with an unexpected expense of 2,500 francs


In 2015, 21.7% of Switzerland’s population was unable to cover an unexpected expense of CHF 2,500 within a month, says a report from the Swiss Federal Statistics Office. Single parent families were the least able to cope with 46.1% of them falling into this camp. Single parent families were followed by single people under 65 (27.1%) and two-parent families (24.0%).

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Swiss rents 40 percent too high, according to bank’s calculation

Rent-Switzerland © Elxeneize | Dreamstime.com

According to the bank Raiffeisen, if rents had followed the path prescribed in the Swiss Code of Obligations, they would be much lower. Their figures show that changes in interest rates have not flowed through to renters. If rents had fallen in step with mortgage interest rates they would be 40% lower than they are currently.

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Proposal to remove Swiss home-owner tax rejected

Property-tax-Switzerland, © Ronnie Wu | Dreamstime.com

In Switzerland, those who own the home they live in must add imputed rent to their income when calculating their income tax. This means owner-occupiers are taxed for living in their own homes, an odd concept for some who are new to Switzerland.

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Bank drops plan to loosen Swiss mortgage restrictions

Source: Raiffeisen

The bank Raiffeisen has dropped its attempt to reduce minimum deposit requirements for home loans, according to RTS. Last autumn, it unveiled plans to reduce loan deposit requirements. However, last week, the bank announced that FINMA, Switzerland’s financial regulator, was opposed to the idea.

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Those over 25 may pay more for Swiss health insurance

The Swiss States Council commission on public health endorsed a plan that could lead to higher health insurance premiums for those over 25. Swiss health insurance providers are required to pay into a communal pot to spread risk between insurance companies.

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Swiss fact: Switzerland has one of the world’s lowest home ownership rates


In Romania, 96.1% of the population owns the home they live in. In Switzerland the percentage is 37.4%. Home ownership rates vary significantly across the country. The lowest rates are found in the canton of Basel-City (16.0%) and Geneva (18.3%). Relative to these two cities, home ownership abounds in Valais (57.2%), the highest. Vaud (31.4%), Zurich (28.5%), Bern (39.9%), and Luzern (34.8%) are all in between.

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Swiss mortgage rates climb in 4th quarter


After reaching a historical low in the third quarter of 2016, rates started rising in the fourth quarter. Rate increases hit mortgage tenors of five and ten years. Compared to Q3, fixed mortgage rates on loans of ten years went up an average 0.2% to 1.62% according to price comparison website Comparis.ch.

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Swiss regulator does not want to loosen mortgage restrictions


Swiss financial markets regulator Finma is not planning to loosen mortgage lending directives, according to its director Thomas Bauer, after the bank Raiffeisen expressed a desire for looser lending rules. In an interview with Zentralschweiz am Sonntag, Bauer said that this could allow certain households to get mortgages that they wouldn’t be able to service over the long term.

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Swiss rents drop, substantially in the Lake Geneva region


Rents have dropped across Switzerland, declining substantially in the Lake Geneva region, according the the property consulting firm Wüest Partner. According to the firm, Swiss rents in the second quarter of 2016 were 1.6% lower than the same quarter in 2015. Geneva saw rents drop by 8.3% over the same period, while the region around Lake Geneva, known as the arc lémanique, saw a fall of 7.2%.

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Swiss home vacancy rate climbs to 15-year high


Switzerland has around 4.4 million homes. In 2000, 52,608 (1.49%) of them were vacant. By 2003, this number had dropped to 33,039, a vacancy rate of 0.91%. After fluctuating between this level and 1.07%, the rate started to climb in 2014 to its current rate of 1.30%, its highest level in 15 years.

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Swiss government plan to reduce doctors’ visits


Some Swiss politicians would like to focus minds on the costs of going to the doctor to reduce the number going for the most minor of reasons. Their plan would require deductibles to rise annually in line with increases in the cost of basic health insurance. Higher deductibles, they think, would put people off going to the doctor unecessarily, reducing pressure on the health system.

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