The latest incident comes after Göttingen’s state welfare office came under fire last week for denying a man part of his unemployment benefits because he was caught panhandling.
The city attributed the most recent action to a “breakdown in communication,” welfare bureau spokesman Detlef Johannson said. According to the agency’s department head Dagmar Schlapheit-Beck, “any withheld welfare benefits will be reimbursed shortly.”
Since 2005, there has been an agreement between the city and Tagessatz which states that proceeds from sales of the magazine should not be deducted from welfare payments, Johannson confirmed.
Sellers of the magazine, the majority of whom receive welfare benefits, are allowed to keep half of the sales proceeds. Currently Tagessatz has nine sellers who together sell between 1,000 and 1,250 magazines each month for €2.
“Unfortunately there’s been a tendency as of late for sellers to be compelled to reveal their comparably small and hard-earned sales revenues,” a Tagessatz press release stated. “A refusal could mean a complete denial or massive decrease in benefits,” it read, which contributes to a “sense of constant supervision and fear” for the magazine sellers.
In last week’s scandal, a city welfare officer observed as a 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 economic and social committee of the Göttingen council is holding a special public session on Thursday to discuss the incidents.