New "integration allowance"

Since September 1st 2015, the government implemented a new kind of start assistance, which now is called Integration Allowance (integrationsydelse). This reduced allowance was first applied to all refugees who were granted asylum and moved to a municipality after September 1st 2015. But after July 1st 2016, all refugees who used to receive normal cash benefits (kontanthjælp) were given the lower rates. The low benefits are now applied to everybody who has not resided legally in Denmark for 7 years or more.

The allowance is roughly half of the normal social allowance (kontanthjælp). According to a new research project by Rockwool Foundation and CASA, the minimum amount to survive on in Denmark when rent is paid, is 6,000 DKr for a single person; 17,000 DKr for a couple with three children. As seen in the table below, this is more than Integration Allowance BEFORE tax and rent. Many single refugees have less than 1,000 DKr for food, clothes, transport, dentist, phone etc.

Refugees who have passed the course Danish Language Education 2 (which usually takes more than two years) will receive a bonus of 1500 DKr per month. However, it will be far from possible for all refugees to obtain this bonus, because everyone does not have the background and qualifications that enable them to take Danish Language Education 2, read more about the Danish Language Education.

The so-called children-check (børnechecken) is awarded to refugee families according to an accruing principle, so that refugee families can only receive the full amount after two years of living in Denmark. The special rent support (boligydelse) has recently been cut down for all residents, and the support that municipalities are allowed to pay for rent has been limited. The sum of money a newly arrived refugee will have at her/his disposal will generally be very meagre.

The Danish government states that these new amounts are at the level of student grants (SU). However, only 9% of all students live on SU alone, and students are able to take the special student loans and allowed to work alongside their studies. In addition, many students get financial and practical support from their parents.   

The UNHCR has criticised the new allowance, arguing that it is in violation of the Refugee Convention. Read more about the critique of the Danish government in relation to the integration allowance.

See also our article on the issue with the social allowance for refugees, with a budget example.