• 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
Drug-related crimes hit ten-year high
Photo: DPA

Drug-related crimes hit ten-year high

The Criminal Investigation Department (BKD) released figures on Tuesday showing that cases of drug-related crimes have risen to the highest number in a decade. READ  

Germany has second-highest surplus in EU
Photo: DPA

Germany has second-highest surplus in EU

Germany reported the second-largest government surpluses as a percentage of GDP in the EU last year and was one of only four countries to stay in the black, according to a report published on Tuesday. READ  

Church fires woman for secret porn career
Photo: DPA

Church fires woman for secret porn career

A woman has taken her former employers, a protestant social welfare organization, to court after they fired her upon discovering she had appeared in porn films. The court rejected her appeal. READ  

Merkel and Tsipras in new one-on-one meet
Merkel and Tsipras at a previous meeting in Berlin in March. Photo: DPA

Merkel and Tsipras in new one-on-one meet

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel Thursday on the sidelines of an EU summit, the Athens government said as it continues to wrangle with creditors over a new rescue package. READ  

Opinion
Stop mass deaths in the Mediterranean
Photo: Greek defence ministry/DPA

Stop mass deaths in the Mediterranean

After a boat with more than 900 people on board sank off the Libyan coast on Sunday, Amnesty International's General Secretary for Germany Selmin Çalışkan calls for change in Europe's Mediterranean policy. READ  

Auschwitz defendant admits 'moral guilt'
Oskar Gröning in court in Lüneburg on Tuesday. Photo:DPA

Auschwitz defendant admits 'moral guilt'

Former SS officer Oskar Gröning, dubbed the "accountant of Auschwitz," asked for "forgiveness" over his role in mass murder at the Nazi death camp, as his trial began on Tuesday. READ  

Second World War still key to German identity
US army tanks roll into Cologne. Photo:DPA

Second World War still key to German identity

Seventy years after the end of the Second World War, Germans still feel that they deal with its legacy in everyday life, a survey published on Tuesday shows. READ  

Drugged teenager in high speed Munich chase
Photo: DPA

Drugged teenager in high speed Munich chase

Police in Munich reported on Monday that they had caught a 16-year-old who raced through the city at up to four times the speed limit, on drugs, in a car with stolen number plates – and without a valid driver's license. READ  

How NHS reform will cost Brit expats dear

How NHS reform will cost Brit expats dear

British people living in other European countries could find themselves forced to take out private health insurance due to a clampdown on expats using the country’s National Health Service (NHS).  READ  

Euro parliament leader warns of new shipwrecks
Refugees being picked up by a German freighter in January. Photo: DPA

Euro parliament leader warns of new shipwrecks

“If we don't act now, we'll experience more tragedies” like the one that killed 950 people off the Libyan coast last weekend, European Parliament president Martin Schulz warned on Tuesday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Politics
A Greek learning politics in Germany
Features
The battle of the "Gates of Berlin"
National
Germany's favourite baby names of 2014
National
Germany's 'very poor' lobbying record
National
VIDEO: Mario Draghi suffers anti-ECB confetti attack
Politics
Merkel's 15 years at the top of German politics
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
10 things you didn’t know about Zagreb (and why you should go)
Features
Spice up asparagus season with The Local's serving suggestions
Sponsored Article
What expat parents should ask before choosing a school
Travel
Lowest of the low: how woman exploited Germanwings crash
Sport
Football and the €30,000 firework
Technology
Why scientists oppose killer robots
National
Germanwings co-pilot 'searched suicide info'
Technology
Electrifying 'Ostalgia'
National
Which city is Germany's worst for drivers?
National
'Cannibal cop' gets 8 years
Can the 'nightmare' of a pilot downing a plane be prevented?
National
LIVE: Co-pilot suspected of crashing plane
Pupils mourn lost classmates
National
Freed after 25 years on death row
National
Cologne Cathedral returns from space
Features
Paddy's Day, Berlin style
Is your workload 'out of control'? You're not alone...
National
Why east Germans are happy to get it on on camera
National
What would you do with a 250-year-old pretzel?
Features
Just why is the German flag Schwarz, Rot, Gold?
Business & Money
Getting German workers and bosses thinking positive
National
Uplifting thoughts to get you through the last week of winter
National
Who wants the Olympics more - Hamburg or Berlin?
National
Last-minute drama of Germany's Eurovision 2015 entry
National
German photographer takes world's top prize
Features
Meet the woman getting Germans to drink more – and better – beer
Gallery
Get inspired for International Women's Day with German heroes
Green party proposes first-ever cannabis legalization plan
Gallery
In pictures: Germany's seven most livable cities
National
Singapore canes Germans for train graffiti
Politics
Surprise! Germans love feeling like they run the EU
Politics
Anger over plan to show women what men earn
Travel
Munich tram fans bicker over new bell
Features
Kafka: puzzling translators 100 years on
Business & Money
France or Germany: Which country really is the best country to work in?
Photo: Police
Rhineland
Student driver crashes tank into family garden.
Photo: DPA
Politics
There was a notable absence at the Anti-Semitism Commission
National
How Dresden bombing still divides Germany, 70 years on
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Take a cute break with this gallery of baby animals
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

7,198
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd