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Health care cost brake initiative to go to a vote

7 days ago

This week, a government proposal presented as an alternative to a referendum aimed at limiting healthcare costs was rejected by initiative organisers. This means the question will be put to voters.

© Alexey Novikov | Dreamstime.comThe initiative, which is supported by the Centre Party, would require actors in the healthcare system to agree on cost-cutting measures if healthcare costs grow significantly faster than wages and the economy – cost growth more than 20% higher than the nominal wage rises would be the trigger point. The nature of the cuts is not specified, which would give those involved full flexibility to make cuts that made the most sense.

Before votes are presented to voters, the government has an opportunity to put forward a counter proposal, which vote organisers may

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The Swiss canton with the highest crime rate

14 days ago

Data published this week reveal Switzerland’s cantonal crime hotspot, a phenomenon connected to geography.

Basel Police © Neydtstock | Dreamstime.comIn 2023, after a sharp rise, the canton of Basel-City recorded the largest number of violent crimes and the highest per capita rates of theft and burglary. The rate of violent crime reached 13.2 per 1,000 residents in the city in 2023.

The number of property crimes, which includes theft and burglary rose to 21,329 in 2023, a figure 18% higher than in 2022.

The canton of Basel-City borders France and Germany. This means there are numerous points where someone can flee cross the border into a neighbouring country. An expert told SRF this makes it easy to escape after committing a crime. Basel Police cannot follow criminals across the

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One in ten Swiss worried about money at the end of the month

14 days ago

A study published this week by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) shows nearly 1 in 10 (9.9%) people in Switzerland has trouble making their money last until the end of the month. And, 4.9% had to go without goods, services or social activities due to a lack of money. The study is a European comparison of life satisfaction and draws on data from 2022.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.comDespite the financial challenges faced by some, Switzerland had the highest average life satisfaction rating in Europe. The average rating was 8.0 out of a maximum of 10, well above the EU average of 7.1. The lowest rating was in Bulgaria (5.6). Switzerland was also well ahead of most of its neighbours. Austria (7.9) was close. However, Italy (7.2), France (7.0) and Germany (6.5) were

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No price rises for Swiss public transport in 2025

14 days ago

Alliance Swisspass, an organisation that stitches together Switzerland’s various public transport providers to create tickets and passes that work across the network, announced this week that there would be no ticket price increases in 2025, reported SRF.

© Woj231 | Dreamstime.comA recent rise in the number of people using the network is bringing in more revenue. This is helping to reduce the need to raise prices, said the organisation. In addition, Alliance Swisspass said that the sector wants to temper prices to entice more people to use its services.

The last time prices rose was a shock to some. Towards the end 2023, when train timetables were adjusted, ticket prices were raised by an average of 3.7% after remaining unchanged for 7 years. In addition, there were suggestions

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Higher Swiss pensions to be funded with higher tax

14 days ago

On 3 March 2024, a majority of Swiss voters accepted a plan to increase the state pension by 1/12th (8.3%) – an extra 13th month of pension will be paid from 2026. Organisers of the vote claimed pension finances were in good shape, implying there was money to fund it. However, there wasn’t. This week the Federal Council presented a plan to raise taxes to pay for the increase, reported RTS.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.comSwiss state pension funding currently looks fine. There are healthy reserves and there is more money coming in than departing. However, when a forecast is done that includes the rapidly accelerating number of pensioners, the numbers look grim, even before the recent decision by voters.

The Federal Council, which is well aware of these forecasts, has to find

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Some relief on Swiss electricity bills in pipeline

21 days ago

When we pay electricity bills we also have to pay for the infrastructure that brings it to our homes. Part of this infrastructure is run by Swissgrid. On 20 March 2024, Swissgrid announced a cut in what it charges from 2025.

Photo by Pok Rie on Pexels.comIn 2025, a household with an annual consumption of 4,500 kWh will pay an average of CHF 77 (-16%) for the services provided by Swissgrid instead of the CHF 92 it will pay in 2024. These charges corresponds to 5% of the total bill. So a 16% drop on a 5% component will shave nearly 1% off the total bill or around CHF 15. Not much, but it is at least something.

More on this:Swissgrid article (in English)

For more stories like this on Switzerland follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Recent Swiss fire deaths prompt calls for fire detectors

21 days ago

Across much of Europe, smoke detectors are a legal requirement. In Switzerland, they are not. The recent death of two people in a fire in Pfaffnau in the canton of Luzern has prompted calls to change the rules, reported SRF.

© Andrey Popov | Dreamstime.comOn 19 March 2024, shortly after midnight, rescue workers were called to a burning apartment in Pfaffnau. Seven people were evacuated, three of whom were sent to hospital because of likely smoke inhalation. Two missing people were eventually located dead in the aftermath of the blaze.

The vast majority of fire deaths are caused by smoke inhalation. A few breaths of dense smoke can sometimes be fatal. Sometimes this can occur while people are sleeping. Fires rapidly consume oxygen while producing large amounts of carbon monoxide.

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Swiss National Bank surprises with interest rate cut

22 days ago

On 21 March 2024, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) lowered its key interest rate from 1.75% to 1.5%.

© J0hnb0y | Dreamstime.comThe move makes the SNB the first significant central bank to lower rates as inflation slows. The cut surprised many analysts and economists. The consensus expectation was for no change in the rate.

Many other central banks have left rates unchanged. On 20 March 2024, the US Fed decided to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 5.25% to 5.5%. And on 21 March 2024, the Bank of England decided to maintain its rate at 5.25%. 

According to a press release, the SNB said that the fight against inflation over the last 2.5 years had been effective and inflation had been below the target rate of 2% for several months. In addition, it said that cutting

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10-step guide to hiring an employee in Switzerland

25 days ago

Brought to you by quitt.business.  

For startups and small companies, hiring and onboarding new employees can be a real hassle. In Switzerland especially, there is a significant amount of admin to deal with. The following is a guide to all the tasks involved in this process.

© Sasa Mihajlovic | Dreamstime.comA summarised list of the administrative tasks associated with hiring a new employee are set out below:

Create an employment contract

Register for social security taxes with the compensation office

Set up a compulsory employee pension known as a 2nd pillar pension

Take out accident and supplementary insurance

Meet obligations under Swiss immigration laws

Set up salary withholding taxes (if required)

Apply for family allowances

Set up salary payments

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Over half of Swiss families struggling to make ends meet

28 days ago

A survey published this week by the organisation Pro Familia shows that 52% of families across Switzerland are struggling to make ends meet.

Photo by Vika Glitter on Pexels.comFor many families in Switzerland, money is tight or insufficient to cover all living expenses. The percentage finding themselves in this position rose from 47% to 52%. The rising cost of health insurance was the biggest challenge cited by most of those surveyed.

Regarding saving, 30% said they were unable to save any money and a further 37% reported managing to save CHF 500 or less a month. When questioned on how to save the state pension system families were not enamoured with any of the suggested solutions, which included higher taxes, later retirement or lower pensions. 39% viewed none of these as an

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New weight loss drugs likely to push up premiums

28 days ago

Since the beginning of March, Swiss health insurance companies have been covering the cost of Wegovy, a weight loss product, reported SRF.

© Oleschwander | Dreamstime.comPreviously, Ozempic, a drug also used by diabetics, was being prescribed for weight loss. Going forward, it is expected that the drugs Wegovy and Saxenda will be prescribed for weight loss instead of Ozempic. This should relieve drug shortages for diabetics – people seeking Ozempic for weight loss have made it difficult for diabetics to obtain the drug.

The large number of people in Switzerland who are severely overweight could lead to a substantial increase the cost of healthcare as these drugs are rolled out. According to Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), 11% to 13% of adults in Switzerland

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Child welfare set to be cut to help pension funding

March 8, 2024

This week, Switzerland’s parliament voted to eliminate child support payments paid to pensioners, reported SRF.

Photo by RDNE Stock project on Pexels.comIn Switzerland, parents typically receive payments for every child that is at school or in higher education up to a maximum age of 25. For most, the payments are connected with employment and funded out of the social security taxes deducted from salaries. However, if someone becomes a parent in their 40s they could end up a pensioner before their children finish their education. To ensure pensioners receive child support, payments unrelated to employment were introduced. This week, a majority in parliament decided these payment, which cost around CHF 230 million a year and are paid to roughly 24,000 parents, should be abolished.

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Church tax – should Swiss companies be forced to pay?

March 8, 2024

Individuals can opt out of church tax in most cantons. But companies rarely can, despite many having no connection with a church or a religion. The topic has been a hot political subject for a long time in Switzerland and came back under the spotlight this week when the canton of Bern discussed making it optional, reported SRF.

© Nuvisage | Dreamstime.comIn 2021, the canton of Bern collected CHF 37 million in church tax from companies, so a change in rules would be felt.

A key criticism of the current system centres on choice. If individuals have the freedom to opt out of the tax then why not companies? Only five cantons have done away with the tax: Geneva, Basel-City, Aargau, Schaffhausen and Appenzell-Ausserrhoden. Another two, Ticino and Neuchâtel, have made it optional. The

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No rise in Switzerland’s rent rate this quarter

March 1, 2024

After two increases in a row the reference interest rate used for adjusting rents remains unchanged this quarter.

Photo by Expect Best on Pexels.comAfter two rises from 1.25% to 1.75% last year, many tenants in Switzerland will be breathing a sigh of relief. Many economists forecast no increases in the rate this year.

Every quarter the rate of interest used to set the rents in Switzerland is reviewed. If it goes down some renters have the right to request a decrease in rent. If it goes up landlords can generally raise rents.

The interest rate used to set the reference rate is the average rate on outstanding mortgage loans. This rate rose from 1.69% at 30 September 2023 to 1.72% on 31 December 2023. The average actual rate was then rounded to the nearest quarter of a percent,

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Switzerland’s marriage tax penalty back in the spotlight

February 25, 2024

Married couples in Switzerland are taxed together, unlike unmarried couples who are taxed individually. This often acts as a tax disincentive for one spouse to work, disproportionately affecting women.
For many years, certain political parties have been pushing to remove what is essentially discrimination on the basis of marital status.
The issue came back into the limelight this week in the run up to a 27 March 2024 deadline for the government to respond to an initiative on the subject, reported SRF.
This week, the Federal Council presented a proposal to introduce individual taxation for everyone regardless of marital status. The proposal would have broadly the same impact as the initiative. The main difference is the initiative, if successful, would change the

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Switzerland’s marriage tax penalty back in the spotlight

February 24, 2024

Married couples in Switzerland are taxed together, unlike unmarried couples who are taxed individually. This often acts as a tax disincentive for one spouse to work, disproportionately affecting women.

For many years, certain political parties have been pushing to remove what is essentially discrimination on the basis of marital status.

The issue came back into the limelight this week in the run up to a 27 March 2024 deadline for the government to respond to an initiative on the subject, reported SRF.

This week, the Federal Council presented a proposal to introduce individual taxation for everyone regardless of marital status. The proposal would have broadly the same impact as the initiative. The main difference is the initiative, if successful, would change the constitution,

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More than 17,000 drivers fined in a month on one Zurich street

February 23, 2024

At the end of September 2023, driving was banned on a 60 metre section of Langstrasse in Zurich. To enforce the ban, cameras were later set up on 8 January 2024 to catch and fine errant drivers. Since then 17,310 fines have been issued.
© Thomas-Stoiber – Dreamstime.comThe driving ban, which excludes buses, was introduced to make the area more cycling friendly and applies from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
At CHF 100 each, the recent fines have generated 1.7 million of revenue for the city. However, a city official said the authorities are unhappy about the number of fines issued and would like to see the number fall.
Part of the problem appears to be a lack of awareness. As awareness rises the city expects the number of fines to fall. In the meantime, the CHF 100 fines

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More than 17,000 drivers fined in a month on one Zurich street

February 23, 2024

At the end of September 2023, driving was banned on a 60 metre section of Langstrasse in Zurich. To enforce the ban, cameras were later set up on 8 January 2024 to catch and fine errant drivers. Since then 17,310 fines have been issued.

© Thomas-Stoiber – Dreamstime.comThe driving ban, which excludes buses, was introduced to make the area more cycling friendly and applies from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

At CHF 100 each, the recent fines have generated 1.7 million of revenue for the city. However, a city official said the authorities are unhappy about the number of fines issued and would like to see the number fall.

Part of the problem appears to be a lack of awareness. As awareness rises the city expects the number of fines to fall. In the meantime, the CHF 100 fines will add up to an

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Higher Swiss pensions – voter support narrows

February 23, 2024

Support for the popular initiative to boost state pensions by 1/13 narrowed from 61% to 53% between 14 January and 10 February, according to a poll published by RTS.

© Bigpressphoto-Dreamstime.comVoting intentions vary significantly by age. In the latest poll, people under 40 were most against it (55%), possibly because they know they will probably need to finance most of it. While only 34% of those 65 and over were against it. Those in the middle are the middle, with only 42% opposed to more money for pensioners.

Voting intentions correlate closely with income level. Those on higher incomes are more likely to be against it than those on lower incomes. 70% of those earning CHF 3000 – 4000 a month were in favour of higher pensions while only 44% of those earning over CHF 11,000 were.

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Swiss supercomputer aims to make AI open to all

February 17, 2024

Much of the progress being made in AI is captured within private companies aiming to keep it to themselves in order to profit from it. Open AI, a project started as an open-source non-profit has morphed into a largely closed-source profit-maximising project increasingly integrated into the software company Microsoft. Many see open-source as critical to the healthy development of AI. A super computer combined with the knowhow of Switzerlands world-leading federal universities could help to swing the pendulum back into the open-source court, reported SRF this week.

© CSCSThe supercomputer is based in the CSCS data center in Lugano. It will contain 10,000 superchips and will be able to perform four peta operations per second – a peta is 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 or 10^15.

The

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Swiss supercomputer aims to make AI open to all

February 17, 2024

Much of the progress being made in AI is captured within private companies aiming to keep in to themselves in order to profit from it. Open AI, a project started as an open-source non-profit has morphed into a largely closed-source profit-maximising project increasingly integrated into the software company Microsoft. Many see open-source as critical to the healthy development of AI. A super computer combined with the knowhow of Switzerlands world-leading federal universities could help to swing the pendulum back into the open-source court, reported SRF this week.
© CSCSThe supercomputer is based in the CSCS data center in Lugano. It will contain 10,000 superchips and will be able to perform four peta operations per second. The centre is set to be the first public

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Swiss government deficit larger than predicted

February 17, 2024

© Bartolomiej Pietrzyk | Dreamstime.com The federal government spent less in 2023 than budgeted but overestimated revenue. The net effect was an additional shortfall of CHF 1.4 billion, reported SRF. At a media conference this week, finance Minister Karin Keller-Sutter said that the Federal Council was not aiming to raise a taxes to fund the …

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Swiss government deficit larger than predicted

February 17, 2024

The federal government spent less in 2023 than budgeted but overestimated revenue. The net effect was an additional unexpected shortfall of CHF 1.4 billion, reported SRF.

© Bartolomiej Pietrzyk | Dreamstime.comAt a media conference this week, finance Minister Karin Keller-Sutter said that the Federal Council was not aiming to raise a taxes to fund the additional shortfall. Raising taxes would require a constitutional amendment to get around the debt brake and would set a precedent for future overspending.

Instead, the federal government will look for further savings. Cuts in spending on payments to farmers, culture and international organisations have already been scheduled.

Keller-Sutter said that cleaning up the budget sustainably requires structural measures. And it is not

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Swiss inflation drops to 1.3%

February 16, 2024

Over the 12 months to the end of January 2024, annual inflation in Switzerland fell from 3.4% to 1.3%. The latest rate is 0.4 percentage points lower than a month earlier – it was 1.7% at the end of December 2023.

Photo by Castorly Stock on Pexels.comAt the same time, on a monthly basis, inflation rose from 0% in December 2023 to 0.2% in January 2024, an annualised rate of 2.4%. This means the fall in the annual rate from 1.7% to 1.3% was driven entirely by the base effect. When a month of particularly high inflation drops out the calculation the annual figure falls by an oversized amount. This happened in January 2024 when monthly inflation of 0.6% in January 2023 dropped out of the annual figure. The base effect means it is possible for monthly inflation to accelerate while the

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Swiss unemployment rises more than expected

February 10, 2024

The number of people unemployed in Switzerland rose by more than most economists expected in January 2024.

Photo by energepic.com on Pexels.comThe rate at the end of January rose to 2.5%, up from 2.3% at the end of 2023, reported the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). A group of economists predicted it would be between 2.2% to 2.5%, placing the actual figure at the top end of expectations.

However, the rate remains low by historical standards. And some of the month-on-month increase can be explained by typical seasonal variations, reported SECO. There is less work in construction, agriculture and the catering industry in the winter months, pushing up unemployment during this period.

At the same time SECO sees the effects of economic slowdown and a downward trend in

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Swiss prefer to holiday close to home

February 9, 2024

Passing through a Swiss airport during peak holiday season might give an impression Swiss like holiday in far away places. However, a survey by the Swiss Bankers, a company that provides holiday related financial services, shows most like to stay close to home.

Photo by Shoeb Khan on Pexels.comIn 2023, 25.9% of total holiday spending was made in Switzerland, followed by France (7.3%), Germany (7.1%), Italy (6.2%), Great Britain (5.5%) and Spain (5.1%). These six made up 57.1% of the total.

Next, and the first non-European nation on the list, was the USA (4.7%). The final three in the top 10 were all European: Ireland (2.9%), Netherlands (2.8%) and Greece (2.3%). The top 10 made up nearly 70% (69.8%) of holiday spending.

More distant travel destinations are gaining in popularity.

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Swiss home prices up in 2023

February 3, 2024

This week, the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) published the Swiss residential property price index for 2023, which showed an annual price increase of 2.2%, with a rise of 1.1% in the fourth quarter.

Photo by PhotoMIX Company on Pexels.comThe average price of single-family homes rose by an average of 1.9% last year and the prices of apartments rose by an average of 2.4%.

In the fourth quarter of 2023, both the prices of single-family homes (+0.5%) and those of apartments (+1.7%) were up across Switzerland. Single-family home prices rose the most in large urban areas and related agglomerations (+2.0%), while prices fell in medium-sized urban areas and agglomerations (-2.0%).

Apartment prices rose the most (+4.6%) in small urban areas, while declining apartment prices (-1.5%)

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Issues concerning the Swiss most in 2023

February 2, 2024

This week, a survey was published setting out issues of greatest concern to the Swiss public.

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Pexels.comThe five biggest issues cited by the Swiss population are of a monetary nature. Economic concerns haverisen, leaving issues such as climate change in sixth place.

The top concern is healthcare costs and health insurance premiums. 41.8% were worried about this. This is the leading concern across all age groups, including those under 30 who are typically less worried about the issue.

In second place, up from 5th last year, is the cost housing. This was listed by 33.4% of those surveyed. This is a greater issue than a year ago for all segments except the young and particularly is acute among the 50-65 age segment, especially in French-speaking

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Swiss pension finances – the unavoidable numerical reality

February 2, 2024

Swiss state pensions have been in the news a lot recently. VAT increased on 1 January 2024 to help fund them, and two referenda on the subject are set for voting on 3 March 2024. This week, RTS published an article setting out the mathematical reality of Switzerland’s pension finances.

© Toa555 | Dreamstime.comPensions in Switzerland, like in much of the developed world, face two significant head winds. The biggest of these is demographic shift. The ratio of people paying into the system versus those taking money out of it is set to drop dramatically. In addition, life spans have risen, although not so much recently.

Pension finances are akin to the slow boiling of a frog. If the temperature rises only slowly, the frog barely notices. In 2022, Switzerland’s state pension fund

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Rising prices – where Swiss are cutting back

January 26, 2024

Purchasing power has been hit much less in Switzerland than in other European nations. Between 2020 and 2023 food prices went up 6% in Switzerland. The same figure in Germany (+17%), UK (+40%) and Estonia (+43%) is much higher.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.comAt the same time, big ticket items like health insurance and rent have made a big dent in Swiss budgets. These more visible prices rises have created a perception that overall costs have risen more than they actually have. This perception has led the population to cut back on spending.

The most popular cut back has been spending on going out and eating out. 52% have cut back on this. Next are clothing (42%), holidays (41%), leisure activities (41%), food (34%), personal services (32%), furniture and household items (31%),

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