• 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
Germany heightens travel warning for Turkey
A view of Istanbul. Photo: DPA.

Germany heightens travel warning for Turkey

The German government has issued more severe warnings about travelling to Turkey after a string of terror attacks in the south of the country, and as Ankara intensifies conflict against two militias in Syria and Iraq. READ  

Fireman turned arsonist jailed for 3 years
Fire services extinguish an unrelated fire in Hamburg in 2011. Photo: DPA

Fireman turned arsonist jailed for 3 years

After a series of arson attacks over several months, an ex-fireman has been sentenced to three years in jail without chance of bail. READ  

Mother slams IKEA for rejecting autistic son
Photo: DPA

Mother slams IKEA for rejecting autistic son

A mother from North Rhine-Westphalia has accused furniture chain IKEA of debasement, discrimination and marginalization – after employees in their Dortmund store refused to let her autistic son into the children's play area. READ  

Wallaby goes walkabout in Berlin outback
Photo: Gemeinde Nuthe-Urstromtal

Wallaby goes walkabout in Berlin outback

A woman in a village south of Berlin was shocked to find a rather unusual visitor in her garden on Tuesday. But by the time police got there he'd already bounced. READ  

Munich upholds ban on Jewish 'memory blocks'
A pedestrian walks by a group of Stolpersteine. Photo: DPA

Munich upholds ban on Jewish 'memory blocks'

The Munich City Council said on Wednesday that it had voted to continue banning the placement of blocks commemorating Jewish Holocaust victims in city streets - a ban that garnered surprising support from Jewish community leaders. READ  

13-year-old boy detained for trying to join Isis
Batlle in Syria. Photo: DPA

13-year-old boy detained for trying to join Isis

A young teen from Munich was detained near the Turkish border with Syria on Friday as he was trying to join the radical Islamist group Isis. READ  

The Local List
Six odd ways Germans talk about the weather
Photo: DPA

Six odd ways Germans talk about the weather

Is it absolutely roasting, or raining cats and dogs? Neither if you live in Germany. Here are six wonderfully weird expressions Germans use to talk about the weather - some more literal than others. READ  

Little by little, Germans move away from cash
Photo: DPA

Little by little, Germans move away from cash

Tourists and business travellers visiting Germany are often surprised when they reach to pay for their beer, metro tickets or even a large restaurant bill that their credit cards are not welcome. Habits, however, are slowly changing as younger consumers leapfrog from cash to convenient electronic forms of payment. READ  

Satire and reality blur in parody party's strife
Martin Sonneborn. Photo: DPA

Satire and reality blur in parody party's strife

After winning a seat in the European Parliament last year on a commitment to 'milking Brussels,' satirical party Die Partei broke new ground. Now a 'Nazi Putsch' threatens to split the party asunder. READ  

Pelicans with wanderlust escape German zoo
These feathered fugitives took flight from the zoo to get a birds-eye view of the world. Photo: DPA.

Pelicans with wanderlust escape German zoo

A pair of pelicans with a serious case of wanderlust flew the coop from Osnabrück Zoo last week, only to find their way back days later. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Culture
Berlin restaurant serves up Greek Crisis Menu
Rhineland
Doctor on trial after woman wakes in morgue
Society
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Sponsored Article
Outsourcing drives Apreel's Europe growth
Society
Police bust kinky Bavarian couple over painful love-making
Politics
Merkel brings Palestinian girl to tears
Hamburg
Amateur archaeologist finds Nazi gold hoard
National
Could Merkel learn a lesson in love from this doppelganger?
Travel
Why you should stay in Germany for the summer holidays
Sport
German press tell Schweinsteiger 'good riddance'
National
Hamburg gets a bouncing 100kg baby girl
Society
In North Germany, money sometimes DOES grow on trees
National
Hero mechanics stop Bavaria shooting spree
International
Denmark says that border controls are coming
National
Did hackers take control of German missile battery?
Politics
Munich gives gay pride green light
Business & Money
Berlin rent controls hit prices hard
National
Fighting to breastfeed in public without shame
Society
Ice cream for dogs 'gobbled up in one gulp'
Education
Are hotpants a feminist issue?
Rhineland
Lion cub reunited with mother
National
How the heatwave is cracking Germany's Autobahns
International
Why the French are more sympathetic to Greece than the Germans
Sponsored Article
Crans-Montana: International expat hub
Gallery
Police seize pensioner's WW2 heavy weapons haul
National
How to survive the Europe-wide heatwave
Sport
Is Schweini already out of the door at Bayern?
Politics
How German media shaped the Greece crisis
National
Car assembly robot crushes worker at Volkswagen
Rhineland
Weathermen red-faced over heatwave snow warning
Society
An eye for an eye? Mum protects child in playground with pepperspray
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's final day in Germany
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's second day in Germany
National
Queen Elizabeth II's first day in Germany - as it happened
National
Bus passengers tell fake racists where to get off
Politics
What's really in the Queen's handbag?
National
Germans say USA doesn't respect freedom
National
Yes, you CAN buy adult e-books before 10pm in Germany
VIDEO: Watch a 93-metre turbine crash to earth in slow motion
Gallery
Who's got a shot at the German Film Awards
Rhineland
Anger over 'child-free' beer garden
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

7,175
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd