Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Denmark winds up at the bottom in a new European survey of benefit payments given to refugees to sustain themselves

Copenhagen Post:

A refugee in Denmark has much less to spend on clothes, food, telephone, transports, electricity, and heating than newly arrived refugees in the Netherlands, England, Germany, Sweden, and Italy.

Daily newspaper Politiken reported that the average refugee received DKK 1859 per month in Denmark, a little more than a third of what refugees receive in the Netherlands.

The Rockwool Foundation's Research Unit, which conducts studies on social issues, compiled information on how much refugees had to spend once they had paid taxes and rent from their benefit payments. The figures were adjusted to account for the countries' price levels.

Report author Torben Tranæs said he found the figures surprising.

'We were surprised to find out that the level is so low compared with other countries. We knew it was somewhat lower than regular social benefit payments, but not that low,' he said.

The introductory benefit payment allotted to newly arrived refugees since 1 July 2002 grants DKK 5527 per month to single newcomers during the first seven years after their arrival, considerably lower than in other EU countries. After the first seven years have passed, however, Denmark boasts one of the highest level of social benefit payments of all the countries in the study, second only to the Netherlands.

Experts in social studies warned that the reduced level of benefit payments to newcomers added to the risk of an immigrant black labour underclass forming in Denmark.

'People are more likely to find alternative ways to compensate, because the daily necessities do not come any cheaper if one's benefit payments are cut,' said sociologist Shahamak Rezaei at the Roskilde University.

Integration Minister Rikke Hvilshøj said, however, that it was almost impossible to compare social benefit payments between countries, as Danish municipalities granted additional payments for transport, children's clothing, and other costs.

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