In the case of social assistance, the Constitutional Court lifts the limitation to benefits in kind

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In the case of social assistance, the Constitutional Court lifts the limitation to benefits in kind

In its most recent deliberations, the Constitutional Court (VfGH) has withdrawn a number of provisions relating to social assistance. It is therefore unconstitutional that the federal states are only allowed to grant benefits in kind to cover the increased housing need (or to prevent special cases of deprivation) (as laid down in the Basic Social Assistance Act (SH-GG) from 2019). A provision of the Vienna Minimum Security Act (WMG) is therefore unconstitutional.

The SH-GG stipulates that the housing needs (ie rental costs and operating costs) are covered by the general assistance. Moreover, a higher housing need can only be granted as a benefit in kind (such as direct payments from the OCMW to the landlord) (fixed rent allowance). According to Tuesday’s VfGH broadcast, it is “objectively not justified and therefore contrary to the principle of equality that these additional services may be granted as benefits in kind without exception”. On the one hand, the purpose of the obligation to provide benefits is legitimate, namely to ensure that benefits are used for the purpose for which they are provided. On the other hand, higher benefits – for example for rental costs – are compensated by higher needs that the needy have no influence on, for example particularly high rents. “So there may be factual reasons to cover additional services with money,” said the Constitutional Court.

Provision of Vienna minimum security law unconstitutional
The Constitutional Court also repealed a provision of the Vienna Minimum Income Protection Act. The amount of the social assistance benefit is determined according to the reference rate for the granting of a compensatory allowance for a pension benefit under the ASVG. With the SH-GG from 2019, the federal government has set maximum limits on social assistance benefits. The monthly cash benefits for persons living in the same household may not exceed 70 percent of this reference percentage of the compensatory allowance (net, less the health insurance contribution). The WMG, on the other hand, stipulates that the maximum rate is 75 percent of the reference rate for compensatory allowances. “This violates the maximum rates set out in the SH-GG and is therefore unconstitutional.”

However, the Constitutional Court recognized that the rent subsidy – as provided for in the Vienna Minimum Security Law – may very well be paid out as a cash benefit: “Since the compulsion to provide benefits in kind is unconstitutional in the SH-GG, the rent allowance is may be paid as a cash benefit.”

Source: Krone

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