Gesine Fuchs

2021 Rechtsberatung und Rechtsschutz in der Sozialhilfe

Fuchs, Gesine; Abbas, Marina; Studer, Melanie; Koschmieder, Nikola; Pärli, Kurt; Meier, Anne; Blanchet, Nathalie; Ruch, Marion (2021): Rechtsberatung und Rechtsschutz von Armutsbetroffenen in der Sozialhilfe. Schlussbericht. Hg. v. Bundesamt für Sozialversicherungen. Bern (Forschungsbericht, 18/20).

Social assistance is the ultimate safety net within Switzerland’s social security system. That is why conflicts between social services and their clients can have serious repercussions: for those affected, it is a question of securing their material livelihood. Legal protection in the social assistance arena is consequently a sensitive and important issue. To what extent is legal protection guaranteed in social assistance? What role do the various independent legal advice services play? Are urgent measures required to improve legal protection? The present study takes an interdisciplinary approach to these questions. It interprets legal protection as more than just the legal issue of whether those affected receive a decision from an impartial government agency within a reasonable period of time. It also examines whether administrative, social, or economic obstacles exist that de facto deny the affected access to justice. The differentiated analysis demonstrates that there are gaps in the legal protection in the social assistance arena and that some of them are serious.
To improve access to justice, the study recommends action at three levels. These are: legislation (right to independent legal advice, free legal assistance); the practices of the social services (clear and comprehensible information that is suited to the situation and the target audience); and strengthening independent legal advice services.

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