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Money talks: Austria plans to cut benefits for immigrants with poor German skills

Austria's Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has called for a tax on tech giants
Austria's Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has called for a tax on tech giants Copyright REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger
Copyright REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger
By Angela Barnes
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Austria is planning to cut benefits for immigrants who do not have a good command of the German language.


Immigrants in Austria without a good level of German are set to see their social benefits cut under new government plans.

The proposals could see monthly payouts for the unemployed cut by €300 if they do not meet language requirements.

"Those who are unwilling to integrate, those who do not want to learn the German language ... will receive less in the future," Austria's Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Twitter.

"First justice for Austrians, foreigners will have to wait," said social affairs minister Beate Hartinger-Klein, of the far-right Freedom Party (FPO), part of the governing coalition.

The government also wants to cut family benefits for workers whose children live abroad, a move that could hit migrant families.

The plan has been criticised by the Caritas charity.

"We must fight poverty, not the people who suffer," its president Michael Landau said, reported AFP news agency.

Caritas also criticised the government's emphasis on claimants' language level at a time when it was reducing funding for some integration programmes, including the organisation of German courses.

The new measures still have to be passed by parliament.

Under current laws, according to the European Commission's website, families may be entitled to child benefit if their children live in another member state - or in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland.

All parents who are entitled to child benefit receive a child tax credit. This benefit is paid in cash, currently provided for under Austrian tax legislation.

The European Commission is reportedly examining the laws to see if the plans are compatible with EU law.

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