• Germany's news in English
 

Hartz IV welfare benefits ruled unconstitutional

Published: 09 Feb 2010 12:06 GMT+01:00
Updated: 09 Feb 2010 14:23 GMT+01:00

The Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe ruled that the payments allotted for 1.7 million children of people on long-term unemployment benefits, introduced in 2005, were not correctly calculated.

Senior government figures quickly promised a review of the system but refused to guarantee payments to children would be raised.

The rate of the payments should be based on whether or not they are sufficient to live according to minimum humane standards, said Hans-Jürgen Papier, the court’s chief justice. But this criterion had not been used.

Therefore, lawmakers had to revise the basis for the payment system by December 31, 2010, the court ruled. The present payments would remain in effect until then.

However, in an important distinction, the court stressed that the payments themselves were “not obviously inadequate” and therefore lawmakers were not obliged to immediately raise them.

The court decided it did not have the authority to set the rate at which Hartz IV should be paid, saying that this was rather the domain of lawmakers.

German Labour Minister Ursula von der Leyen described the ruling as a “very important decision for the government and for the community,” while refusing to say whether the rate of payments for children would be raised.

It would be “reckless to speculate right now about amounts,” she said.

The decision was in part an indictment on the Hartz IV scheme “but the big winners are children,” von der Leyen said.

The conservative Christian Democrats parliamentary chief, Volker Kauder, vowed a quick reassessment. Kauder told reporters in Berlin a new system had to be determined quickly for children affected. But he also refused to commit to a boost to payments.

The Hartz IV reforms, introduced by the former coalition of the centre-left Social Democrats and environmentalist Greens under then Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, consolidated welfare payments into one system for the long-term unemployed and their children, effectively slashing the payments for many recipients.

The court was ruling on previous decisions made by the Federal Social Court and State Social Court in the state of Hesse, to whom families on Hartz IV had lodged claims. Both of these courts had ruled the system was not adequate to ensure the needs of children.

The payments for children are effectively calculated as a percentage of the €359 per month given to unemployed adults – not including rent, which is covered by the government. If the adult lives with a partner, he or she receives 90 percent of that sum, or €323.

Children aged up to five get €215 per month – 60 percent of the adult rate – and children aged six to 13 get €251 – or 70 percent of the adult rate.

DDP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

13:24 February 9, 2010 by majura
"Hartz IV welfare benefits ruled unconstitution" - al.
16:21 February 9, 2010 by Fredfeldman
All this sighing about Hatz IV benefits is becoming boring. There *you* go but for the grace of God. The cold reality is that as we all march into the future and society becomes more automated there will be proportionately less jobs to go around as there are now. Having a good job these days is a privilege, not a right and carries with it the obligation to support the folks who weren't fortunate enough to win the employment lottery. A modern society that ignores that reality has no future.
17:27 February 9, 2010 by michael4096
How cheap is cheap enough?
To hear parents whine about their clothes not looking nice enough does not evoke much sympathy.
"When I was a lad, we 'ad to spend 12 hours down coal mine... before school"

With kids, it's a question of relationships, surely. They must be able to relate to their peers or they end up with a chip on the shoulder that will probably turn sceptic for everybody around. iPlayers are an optional extra unless, literally, everybody has one.

Unfortunately, kids know this even better than most parent and play the game better than anyone. Kids given everything, just start playing the game at the next level. I have experience of this from my nephew and niece.

Hartz, and any other fix, are a success if they allow the parents the ability to screw it up
20:49 February 9, 2010 by tollermann
Conquistador if you don't like the way businesses hire and fire open your own business!
07:19 February 10, 2010 by wenddiver
How about giving the Germans on HARTZ-IV the jobs of all the foreign workers that Germany imports????? If you could put on a Mercedes or BMW that no guest workers were involved that it was made with pride by German labor it would be more appealing, not less appealing in the US.

Americans of German decent have a very good reputation for their work ethic in the US, no reason you couldn't tap into that.
Today's headlines
Wolf spotted in North Rhine-Westphalia
File photo: DPA

Wolf spotted in North Rhine-Westphalia

Camera traps have spotted a wolf for the second time in a month in North Rhine-Westphalia, the state environment ministry reported on Friday. READ  

German ranchers murdered in Paraguay
Paraguayan police on patrol in an area known to contain EPP rebels. File photo: DPA

German ranchers murdered in Paraguay

The Foreign Ministry in Berlin confirmed that two Germans living in Paraguay were kidnapped and killed earlier this week. READ  

AfD braces for busy conference weekend
"Vote AfD!" reads the flyover message. Photo: DPA

AfD braces for busy conference weekend

As leaders of the Germany's anti-Euro upstart party Alternative for Germany (AfD) prepare for its party conference this weekend, the potential for chaos is rising. READ  

Sudden dose of winter causes traffic chaos
Snow in Oberharz. Photo: DPA

Sudden dose of winter causes traffic chaos

UPDATE: Two people were rescued from avalanches as a blast of winter has taken Germany by surprise, while snow and ice accounted for several traffic accidents across the country on Friday. READ  

BND collects 220 million phone records a day
Photo: DPA

BND collects 220 million phone records a day

Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) collects 220 million pieces of information about foreign phone calls and SMS every day, Zeit Online reported on Friday. READ  

U-turn on minimum wage for foreign drivers
Photo: DPA

U-turn on minimum wage for foreign drivers

Germany temporarily hit the brakes Friday on applying its new minimum wage to foreign truck drivers transiting the country in a move welcomed by Poland, which vigorously opposed the system. READ  

Crises make Germany EU foreign policy leader
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Photo: DPA

Crises make Germany EU foreign policy leader

Foreign policy think-tank the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) gave Germany top marks in its annual check-up of EU member states released on Thursday. READ  

Prost! Beer sales hop up for first gain in 8 years
Photo: DPA

Prost! Beer sales hop up for first gain in 8 years

New figures released Friday by federal statistics office Destatis are numbers breweries can drink to, as German beer consumption saw its first year-on-year rise since 2006. READ  

Germany has thousands of uni spots open
Photo: DPA

Germany has thousands of uni spots open

New research published by Spiegel on Friday shows that there are thousands of university placesa unoccupied across the country, while certain hot spots cope with too much demand. READ  

Borussia coach admits to 'downward spiral'
Borussia Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp at a press conference. Photo: DPA

Borussia coach admits to 'downward spiral'

Borussia Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp admits feeling the pressure as his side resume their fight to stay in Germany's top flight on Saturday at fellow Champions League side Bayer Leverkusen. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Business & Money
FATCA: 'The age of financial privacy is over'
Gallery
The best regional foods TTIP opponents want to protect
Photo: DPA
Features
The rise and spread of Pegida
Photo: Shutterstock
Culture
This cosplayer did not think his plan through
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Photo: DPA
Politics
The Local's report from Pegida's largest ever demonstration.
Sponsored Article
Top-notch tech boosts bilingual schools
National
Six stories that will rock Germany this year
Photo: DPA
National
Terror alert at a new high. Should you be worried?
Dresden skyline and river by night. Photo: DPA
Politics
What does Dresden have against Muslims?
Photo: DPA
National
What were your favourite news stories of 2014?
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
Photo: DPA
National
This German was abducted and tortured by the CIA
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Berlin
The Local's series on 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,462
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd