The recently-formed Venstre government announced on Wednesday that unemployment welfare benefits that asylum seekers coming to Denmark were entitled to under the previous government will be replaced by a new – and significantly lower – so-called ‘integration benefit’.
“The government will, as promised during the election, quickly implement a new integration benefit for new arrivals, in order to make Denmark a less attractive destination while making it more attractive to work and contribute to Danish society,” a press release from the Ministry of Employment stated.
See also: Denmark's asylum seeker numbers up again
During the recent election, Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen frequently noted that he intended to introduce changes that would help reduce the number of refugees coming to Denmark.
“We want to get a grip on the immigration policy so that the influx of asylum seekers and people coming here through family reunification is brought under control,” the PM told journalists at a press conference in June.
The new restrictions will initially only apply to refugees arriving after September, but will from January 2016 be expanded to include all foreigners who have not resided in Denmark for seven out of the past eight years. The restrictions will also reportedly apply to Danish citizens who haven't lived in the country for seven of the past eight years.
The integration benefit will be lowered to the level of Danish student grants, meaning that a single adult with no children will receive 5,945 kroner per month before tax, compared to the current 10,849 kroner unemployment benefit – a 45 percent cut.
Foreigners will also receive a financial incentive to learn Danish, as those who pass the intermediate Danish language exam will receive a 1,500 kroner increase to their monthly integration benefit.
See also: Four of ten refugees fail language test
New Integration Minister Inger Støjberg said that there were more changes on the horizon.
“This is the first in a number of restrictions that the government will implement to get immigration and integration under control again,” Støjberg wrote.