As part of ‘fundamental changes’ to Denmark’s approach to asylum wanted by the right-wing party in exchange for its support of the government’s tax cut proposals, DF wants the ‘basic integration education programme' (integrationsgrunduddannelse, IGU) to be cut from immigration provisions.
Introduced by minister Inger Støjberg’s Ministry of Immigration and Integration in 2016, the IGU initiative provides opportunities for refugees to take short-term jobs at an apprentice salary level of between 50 to 120 kroner (6.70–16 euros) per hour.
The IGU jobs can last for up to two years and refugees are offered skill development or education courses of up to 20 weeks.
In what it has called a ‘paradigm shift’ on immigration, DF has proposed all refugees granted so-called temporary asylum (midlertidigt ophold in Danish) be denied the right to family reunification and returned to their home country once it is considered to be safe, as well as for IGU to be scrapped.
Those policies fall into line with the DF view that the status of refugees should always be considered as temporary.
Newspaper Politiken reported on Monday that the IGU scheme offered considerable economic benefit for Denmark’s 92 municipalities.
Figures provided to the Ministry of Immigration and Integration by consultancy firm Mploy demonstrate the potential windfall for authorities, writes Politiken.
In Aalborg Municipality, where the economic potential was found to be greatest, the city council stands to save 100 million kroner (13.4 million euros) if 100 refugees receive income through IGU rather than the state income payment for refugees (integrationsydelse in Danish).
In addition to savings on welfare payments, the municipality would also receive a results-based bonus from the state should refugees complete six months in IGU apprenticeships.
At least 34 refugees are currently engaged in such programmes in Aalborg, reports Politiken.
“We have had good experiences with the IGU, and it is – as these analyses show – a very economically viable option,” Confederation of Danish Employers director Jacob Holbraad told the newspaper.
The full potential of the scheme for individual municipalities depends on the number of eligible refugees living there, but the average saving over a two-year-period could be up to 5.5 million kroner (740,000 euros), according to the report.
Should the IGU programme result in a full-time job offer, those potential benefits stand to increase even further.
Although different employment schemes have different degrees of success, the IGU model is strong since private businesses are generally responsible for paying participants' wages, a labour analyst told Politiken.
“From the moment an individual who would otherwise be unemployed enters an IGU scheme, that person is contributing to providing for themselves. That is a positive economic story for the business, the individual and for the state, including the municipal coffers,” Torben Tranæs of the Danish Centre of Applied Social Science and the Danish Economic Councils said.
DF’s immigration spokesperson Martin Henriksen told Politiken that, although his party would prefer refugees to provide for themselves, DF was also against IGU, since the scheme increased the likelihood of individuals remaining in the country in the long term.
He also said that discussion of economic benefits should take into account other municipal, regional and state costs of providing asylum.
“It would be very good for our country culturally and good economic business if people were sent back [to their home countries],” Henriksen said.