‘Workshy’ couple see benefits reduced

A married couple in Kinda in the south east of Sweden have lost a court bid to retain their current level of welfare payments. For almost ten years the husband and wife pair have asserted their right to opt out of the rat race and live on a combination of state support and their own crops.

Ötergötland county court disagreed however, ruling that there were no health issues preventing the pair from taking up employment and that their benefits should therefore be reduced, reports.

In a letter to the county court, the husband had argued for a reversal of the decision taken by local social services at the end of May to reduce the couple’s benefits.

“Conventional work is out of the question for me – both in terms of my conscience and on an intellectual level – as it seems objectionable with regard to both my personal well-being and the well-being of society as a whole. Emotionally too it creates unbearable pain and dejection,” he wrote.

The local council has tried on a number of occasions to convince the couple to reconsider their life choice – but to no avail.

The court based its decision on an interpretation of the Social Services Act, which stipulates that recipients of social welfare payments must actively seek work and accept any subsequent job offers.

The drop in income is likely to mean that the couple will no longer be able to afford the house they are currently renting in the countryside near Kinda, forcing them instead to move to a built-up area. But the married couple are loath to leave the countryside, arguing that they are unsuited to the “atmosphere” in town.

The pair have now pledged to take their case to the administrative court of appeal.