The financial social assistance (FSA) rate is the main indicator of the social assistance recipients statistics. It represents the proportion of recipients who received a social assistance payment during the survey year in relation to the whole of the permanent resident population.
Apart from the financial social assistance rate, the statistics on recipients provide numerous indicators such as the socio-demographic characteristics of people receiving support, the structure of households, education, the situation on the labour market and the financial social assistance payments granted.
Financial social assistance rate and geographic distribution
In 2018 the social assistance rate falls for the first time since ten years from 3.3% to 3.2%. For the first time in ten years it has dropped. The number of benefits also decreased (1.5%). This represents 274 200 persons who received social assistance in the form of a financial benefit on at least one occasion.
The differences between cantons in the social assistance rate are partly related to the population structure and the economic make-up of the region, partly to the cantonal benefits that precede financial social assistance.
Groups at risk in social assistance
The risk of depending on social assistance is greater for certain population groups such as children, foreign nationals, divorced persons and those with no post-compulsory education. The financial social assistance rate is higher in urban regions and increases in parallel to the size of the commune.
The education level of recipients is an important factor in the risk of becoming dependent on social assistance. Persons without professional training or education are over-represented in social assistance. They form 17% of the permanent resident population but represent 46.4% of social assistance recipients. This proportion is almost three times higher in social assistance than in the overall population.
Of all cases with a benefit 27.9% were able to leave social assistance. This leaving rate has been calculated in the current reporting year for the first time.
Social assistance trajectories
The FSO has conducted detailed analyses to understand the social assistance trajectories beneficiaries. The period of analysis ran from the start of 2006 to the end of 2011. Each new person registered in 2006 was observed for a period of 60 months, and depending on the length of assistance, assigned to different types of trajectory. These were defined by whether the benefit period was short or long; a return to social assistance after having left was also taken into account.
Short-term beneficiaries: received benefits for 1 to 12 months without interruption of 6 months or more (38.5% of people).
received benefits for 13 to 36 months without interruption of 6 months or more (18.1% of people).
received benefits for 37 to 60 months without interruption of 6 months or more (6.4% of people).
Dependent long-term beneficiaries: received benefits for 37 to 60 months without interruption of 6 months or more (10.0% of people).
Returns to social assistance: one or more interruptions in social assistance for longe than 6 months (26.9% of people).
Young adults (18-25) are more likely to return to social assistance.
Persons aged 65 and over are more likely to be short-term beneficiaries (49.7% compared with an average of 38.5%).
Long-term beneficiaries are more likely to be persons aged 46 to 55. Beneficiaries approaching retirement (56 to 64 year-olds) are also less likely to be affected by long-term benefits (7.0%).
Completion of post-compulsory education and training reduces the risk of becoming a social assistance beneficiary but also that of long-term dependence.
Social assistance applicants with no post-compulsory qualification are more likely to become long-term beneficiaries; they are also more likely to belong to the group of persons returning to social assistance.