Austria pursues a comprehensive social policy, which is based on a wide-ranging and dense network of social benefits and services.
The objective of Austrian social policy is to counteract risks such as poverty, violence or social exclusion. To this end, alongside support systems such as social insurance, there is a range of other priorities, which include:
- an active senior citizens’ policy
- measures to prevent violence;
- support for voluntary work;
- the promotion of social corporate responsibility, and
- activities to reduce social inequalities, such as benefits for families,
- social compensation and
- new social projects (such as the social impact bond).
National and regional responsibilities
The Austrian system of social security is divided up between the federal government, the provinces and local authorities. Benefits under social insurance law and general benefits are the responsibility of the federal government, while the provinces, local authorities, and cities and town are responsible for a major part of the health care system, housing, social services, childcare facilities and the means-tested minimum income.
Social legislation: cooperation with the social partners
Numerous non-state parties are involved in the creation of social legislation in Austria and play a key role in the process of the formation of political opinions and policies. The most important of these include the Chamber of Labour (AK), the Economic Chamber (WKO) and the Chamber of Agriculture (LK), the Federation of Austrian Trade Unions (ÖGB) and the Federation of Austrian Industries (IV).
Finally yet importantly, the institutions of the European Union provide important impulses for the further development of the social welfare system.
Before national measures in the field of social legislation are taken, the social partners are consulted. The latter endeavour to find consensual solutions, which are frequently a good basis for legislation.