The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Federal Court: Formal Cancellation of Social Assistance Unlawful

Social assistance may only be discontinued in the absence of cooperation from the affected person to clarify their financial situation through a formal, challengeable decision. Due to the drastic effects of discontinuing social assistance, this step must not be taken informally, the Federal Court has ruled. In January 2021, the social service responsible for a man from the canton of Neuchâtel, who had been receiving social assistance since 2020, asked him to provide information on his partner's income and expenses by the end of February. This was to clarify the family's entitlement to support, according to a judgment of the Federal Court published on Tuesday. The social service threatened the man with closing his file in the case of non-compliance. He did not submit any documents within the applicable deadline and the social service stopped payments from March 1, 2021. Further efforts by the social service initially remained unsuccessful. At the end of June and mid-August 2021, two formal decisions were made to retroactively revoke social assistance from February 28. The man's appeal to the cantonal administration and the Neuchâtel Cantonal Court against the decision to cut his social assistance remained unsuccessful. The Federal Court has now partially accepted the man's appeal. The cancellation of social assistance cannot be objected to per se, as the financial situation of the person concerned and his partner could not be clarified. The Federal Court has ruled that the termination of social assistance for a recipient must be done through a formal decision, as this measure has significant consequences. An informal termination of the payment of social assistance is not allowed. (Judgment 8C_307/2022 of 4.9.2023).


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