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Austria's new government plans to cut child benefits abroad

From Reuters - January 4, 2018

SEGGAU, Austria (Reuters) - Austrias ruling coalition of conservatives and the far right plans to cut benefit payments for children living abroad, it said on Thursday, adding that it believes the move does not break European Union rules banning discrimination.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurzs cabinet was sworn in on Dec. 18, two months after his conservative Peoples Party won theparliamentary election. It struck a coalition deal with the anti-immigration Freedom Party (FPO), making Austria the only western European country with a far-right party in government.

The FPO controls the interior, foreign, defense and social affairs ministries, among others.

At the start of a two-day cabinet meeting in a castle near Slovenia, Kurz said the government would cut benefits for Austrian residents children who live in a country where the cost of living is lower.

It is an unfairness built into the system that, for two children who do not even live in Austria but in Romania, roughly 300 euros a month are transferred to Romania and that is almost the average income there, Kurz told reporters standing alongside Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache.

Payments vary depending on childrens age and number but start around 114 euros ($138) a month for an only child.

We will reach a decision in cabinet here so that child benefit payments are not made abroad to the same extent as before, Kurz said, adding that adjusting payments to the local cost of living would save more than 100 million euros (a year).

That pales in comparison with the 2.5 billion euros in savings the government aims to make this year. Kurz said the move was being made so quickly because it was one of the easiest to prepare.

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