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Swiss favour more social cover

The state of the social security system is of concern to young and old alike Keystone

More than half the Swiss want better social security, according to a survey released on Wednesday, but they aren’t sure how to finance it.

This content was published on April 6, 2005 - 21:52

Most of those polled believe the social security system is in bad shape and will be in even worse condition in years to come.

The Univox study carried out in September by the GfS polling institute in Zurich shows that nearly a quarter of those questioned want a reinforcement of social security, while a third said they were more or less in favour.

People are divided though on how to pay for improvements. Fourteen per cent of those polled reckon that more should be deducted from salaries to cover extra costs.

Almost the same number think that a higher added-value tax is the way to go, while death duties are favoured by around seven per cent. One in ten considers a federal energy tax or a specific new tax on income the best solution.

Those surveyed are especially concerned about the state of the social security and healthcare systems. The biggest worries for the Swiss are the disability insurance scheme and the funding of healthcare insurance.

On a one-to-five scale – with five the best possible result – disability and healthcare only score 2.6. The unemployment benefit scheme is considered only slightly better with 2.8 points.

Government pensions and social aid received 2.9 points each, while occupational pension funds did best with three.

Despite this, the Swiss are slightly more satisfied with the government pension scheme, unemployment benefit and social aid than in the last such survey in 1996. They have less faith in their private pension funds and health insurance companies.

Occupational benefit

The survey also showed that people have trouble understanding compulsory privately-run occupational pension funds – the second tier of the Swiss pension system.

Only two-thirds of those polled knew that they would receive a pension from these funds when they retire. And one in two did not realise that events such as disability or death were also covered.

Almost half of those questioned said they wanted fewer restrictions placed on how pension funds operate, while nearly a third said that they wanted to choose their own fund. Today, there is usually one pension fund per company.

A strong majority of Swiss are concerned by the increasing number of people receiving disability benefit. Around 85 per cent see it as an issue, and eight out of ten believe stricter checks would help rein in galloping costs.

But only a quarter think that the notion of disability should be redefined, and just 16 per cent of those polled think the disability benefit scheme should receive more funding.

Recent figures from the Federal Social Insurance Office showed that the share of the working population receiving a disability allowance continued to increase last year. Altogether, 283,000 people received some form of benefit.

But tougher requirements and improved procedures have led to a fall of six per cent in the number of new applicants being granted invalidity pensions.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

24% of those polled were in favour of reinforcing the social security system.
33% said they were more or less in favour.
14% reckoned any improvement should be funded by more salary deductions.
13% said the solution would be higher value-added tax.
10% believe new specific taxes on energy use or income could fund improvements.
7% thought the introduction of death duties could be a solution.

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