Away from Hartz IV, towards citizen income: The planned reform is causing internal discussions in the federal government. What the Greens, FDP and SPD are arguing about.
Berlin – Unemployment benefit II will no longer exist in its current form from next year. “On January 1, 2023, we will overcome the Hartz IV system and introduce the new citizen’s income,” announced Federal Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, Hubertus Heil (SPD), after the departmental vote on the corresponding draft law in August. Exactly how the coming help for the long-term unemployed looks like is still a matter of debate. Internally, the traffic light does not seem to agree on important points. The FDP and SPD, in particular, keep clashing.
Citizen money replaces Hartz IV: Dispute about the sanctions
In view of the high inflation, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) promised a speedy introduction of citizen income. “This is the basis for bringing about substantial relief for those who have the least,” said Scholz. The reform could be done using a new basis for calculating the standard rates. In addition, sanctions against benefit recipients should only be able to be imposed after a six-month period of trust.
The Greens support the reform proposals submitted by Hubertus Heil and want to change details if necessary. The FDP sees it differently. While Labor Minister Heil advocates less severe sanctions, Finance Minister Christian Linder (FDP) strictly opposes them. In an interview with the Berliner Morgenspiegel , Linder takes the position of the working middle class: “I see it through the eyes of those who work every day and still have to turn over every euro,” said the finance minister. “These people could not understand that they should not only support the needy with their taxes, but also those who deliberately miss appointments or turn down offered education and work.”
Calculation basis for citizen money: FDP wants to retain the Hartz IV standard rate
The FDP also considers a new basis for calculating citizen income to be unfair. According to the Hartz IV system, single adults receive 449 euros per month. Hubertus Heil and the SPD want to raise the standard rates, with an increase of 40 to 50 euros per month in mind. The Free Democrats block and warn of “incalculable costs”. According to FDP leader Lindner, there is a “proven procedure” for calculating the standard rates based on price and salary developments. The mere increase in passive benefits, on the other hand, is “not fair to those who work full-time with low wages and do not receive any benefits from the state.”
It rubs between the chairmen of the SPD and FDP. For example, the head of the Social Democrats, Saskia Esken, does not think that the increases planned so far are enough. Esken wanted more significant increases in standard rates. One should not leave people with low incomes alone with the ongoing price increases. The finance minister disagrees. “The citizen’s income should be an activation and not an unconditional basic income,” argued Lindner.
Higher additional earnings than with Hartz IV: limit should be raised for citizen income
The liberals oppose the abolition of sanctions and the recalculation of the standard rates for the successor model of unemployment benefit II. You have to be careful that work is still worthwhile, said FDP parliamentary group leader Christian Dürr at the editorial network Germany . The proposal of the FDP: a higher additional income. “If people in Hartz IV work a few hours, we no longer want to take most of their earnings away from them,” said Dürr. Johannes Vogel, the FDP’s social expert, described his party’s idea as “promotion and opportunity-oriented”.
Hubertus Heil’s plans already include raising the additional earnings limit for trainees and school and student jobs. “Finally reforming the rules on additional income, as agreed in the coalition agreement, for adults as well, must be a central component of the citizen income reform,” quotes the Berliner Morgenpost Johannes Vogel. He describes the current regulation of additional earnings as “absurd” and “demotivating” to grow back into the labor market as a person with basic security. (aa/afp)