Cabinet backs 'white-washed' poverty report
Published on: 07 Mar 2013 07:14 CET
But the official report shows that despite healthy growth in both the economy and the job market, the gap between rich and poor has grown further in Germany.
The report's publication was delayed for months by a coalition row over apparent redactions made by Economy Minister Philipp Rösler, head of junior coalition partner the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP).
Critics have accused the government of whitewashing the report, after it emerged that one of the lines removed by Rösler was, "Private wealth in Germany is distributed very unevenly."
The report, entitled "Conditions of Life in Germany," was presented in a press conference on Wednesday by Labour Minister Ursula von der Leyen. It reveals that 14 to 16 percent of Germans are "threatened with poverty," while the richest ten percent of households have 53 percent of the nation's wealth.
The entire bottom half of German society, meanwhile, owns only one percent of the property.
On the plus side, the report found that disposable income in real terms has generally increased since 2005, although the low-wage sector, as well as part-time and sub-contracted temporary labour, was also on the rise.
"The Merkel government is being pressured by the FDP into tailoring the poverty and wealth report," said Hubertus Heil, vice-chairman of the opposition Social Democratic Party's parliamentary faction. "By doing that, it is not recognizing the social realities in Germany and injuring people's sense of justice."
Rösler rejected the "white-washing" accusation, made by a number of opposition parties in the past few months, as "simple election campaign rhetoric," and added that "everyone knows" that Germany has not been so well off in a long time.