Even though Switzerland remains one of the world’s wealthiest nations, a recent report indicates about half a million people in the country are living in poverty. A conference held in the Swiss city of Biel addressed the issue.
The conference aim is to try and stop the growing numbers of people affected by poverty. It also wanted to review updates on its five-year programme against poverty and see how it is coming along.
Erich Fehr told those in attendance that poverty in Switzerland is somewhat hidden from the public eye, he said that many people who are in need of help often do not contact social services even though they are eligible.
“It is sometimes from a lack of knowledge, but also sometimes from shame,” Fehr said.
According to a recent report one in 13 Swiss residents are living in poverty, the issue is further worsened by the high cost of living in the country, which include food prices, cost of housing, and mandatory health care.
For a single individual the poverty line is set as making less than 2,200 francs per month, for a family with two children living below the poverty line means earning less than 4,050 francs per month.
The Swiss conference for Social Statistics sets the poverty line threshold when individuals cannot afford the goods and social services essential to a healthy and socially integrated life.
Jean-Pierre Tabin a professor of Social Work and Health in Lausanne said that many people need to be included in the formation of a social welfare policy.
Tabin reiterated the fact that a significant social problem stemmed partly from a lack of familiarity with the social welfare system or fear of being discriminated against or stigmatized. He said that the most vulnerable individuals in such circumstances need to be included in the formation of a social welfare policy.
Even though Switzerland had several initiatives to address the levels of poverty in the country, the poverty levels are still high. Switzerland was one of the first countries in the world to introduce a weekly guaranteed income to each Swiss family nevertheless a referendum failed to implement this last June.
Although wages in Switzerland can be high compared to other European lands, about 6.6% of the Swiss population who live in poverty find it hard to make ends meet. Simply keeping up with the daily cost of living can be a struggle in cities like Zurich and Geneva.
Switzerland initiative in addressing such issues shows that the country is following a democratic model and sets an outstanding example for other nations to follow.