The measure is about "equal treatment" of all refugee groups living on benefits, social services agency says
Ukrainian refugees receiving financial assistance in Switzerland might be forced to sell their cars in order to keep getting their assistance payments, news outlet 20 Minuten has reported, citing social services.
The new Swiss regulations oblige any person that is living off benefits a year after arriving in the country to pass a revaluation of their assets, the outlet said on Tuesday.
Ukrainian refugees with so-called 'S status,' - which allows them to leave and enter Switzerland freely - also fall into this category, it pointed out.
According to the Swiss Conference for Social Assistance (SKOS), which issues guidelines for social welfare in the Alpine country, cars are to be disposed-of "if their value exceeds the asset allowance for the relevant household size."
In the central canton of Lucerne, the authorities have set a deadline of one month for those getting social assistance to sort out issues with their personal vehicles.
The local Asylum and Refugee Service (DAF) branch explained to 20 Minuten that it counts cars as assets for people with 'S status,' meaning that the sum earned from the sale of the vehicle will be excluded from the benefits. Even if a car isn't sold, its value will still be estimated, affecting the calculation of the amount of the financial aid, it added.
More than 130 Ukrainian refugees with cars are currently receiving social support in Lucerne, with "the majority of the registered vehicles exceeding the asset allowance," which is 4,000 Swiss francs (around $4,380) per person or 10,000 Swiss francs (around $10,900) per family, DAF said.
"It's about equal treatment [of Ukrainians] with all other groups of people in Switzerland, who receive social assistance. Vehicles are also counted towards their respective assets," a representative of the agency said.
Other Swiss cantons are also working to implement the new regulations, but it remains unclear how many cars will actually need to be sold, the outlet said. Social services in Bern told 20 Minuten that "there have been no sales yet."
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More than 79,342 Ukrainian refugees fleeing the conflict with Russia have arrived in Switzerland over the past year, according to the Swiss State Secretariat for Migration (SEM). 20 Minuten estimated that at least several thousand of them are in possession of vehicles.