The government's Start Help unemployment assistance program for immigrants has been successful in pushing them into work Immigrants receiving reduced public assistance have integrated themselves into the labour market far better than those who are eligible to receive full unemployment benefits, according to a study from the highly respected Rockwool Foundation Research Unit. The study of 11,347 immigrants showed that under the government's Start Help program, instituted in July 2002, were nearly twice as likely to find a job than those covered by the previous public assistance regulations. One reason for the program's success, according to the report, is that unemployment benefits paid out to Start Help recipients - DKK 5638 per month per person - is nearly half the normal amount. The employment minister, Claus Hjort Frederiksen, told Politiken newspaper he was pleased with the study's results and said it proves that the program is serving its intended purpose. 'We created Start Help because we could see that it simply didn't pay for immigrants to find work. I realise there are other barriers for immigrants, such as learning Danish and getting to know Danish society, but we had to address the most serious obstacle first.' Opposition parties are not convinced the study proves anything at all, pointing out that only 14 percent of immigrants eligible for only Start Help are in jobs, compared with 9 percent of immigrants eligible for full unemployment benefits. 'That's still only one in seven that have jobs, and the consequences for those people who have to live on Start Help far offsets the tiny positive results of the study,' said Lotte Bundsgaard, the Social Democratic integration spokesperson. Torben Tranæs, head of research for the Rockwell Foundation, confirmed that the program has had a notable effect, but also cautioned reading too much into the results. 'If you look solely at the employment part of the study, then you'd have to say the program is a success. But whether that's enough to say the new rules are good, that's a political issue.'
Source: Copenhagen Post (English)