Welfare officials said they questioned the legality of the city's decision, meanwhile social justice organisation Paritätische Wohlfahrtsverband called the decision degrading and called for legal action.
A city welfare officer observed as the man on unemployment benefits earned €7.40 by begging on the street. The officer then estimated that the man earned roughly €120 per month this way, and sent him a letter informing him that his benefits would be reduced by this amount.
The measures were “totally excessive,” a spokesperson for the state welfare office said, adding that one can't “shoot cannons at sparrows” by calculating alms so that the “state takes away a few panhandled euros.”
Paritätische Wohlfahrtsverband spokesperson Manfred Grönig criticised the notion that the welfare office could consider begging a regular income. “We've never gone this low before,” he said.
The city said it had excercised the same authority in two to three other cases. “If we learn of additional income we have to apply the rules,” a spokesperson said.