Von der Leyen under fire for Hartz IV changes

Opposition parties on Tuesday blasted Labour Minister Ursula von der Leyen’s announcement about changes to Hartz IV unemployment benefits, saying she had dodged the question about the precise rise in rates.

Von der Leyen under fire for Hartz IV changes
Photo: DPA

Von der Leyen announced on Monday some details about her plans for “non-cash” benefits, such as a chip card that gives needy children access to educational and recreational services. She also said that she planned the rates to rise in harmony with wage increases and inflation.

But the Greens attacked von der Leyen’s announcement as nothing but political manoeuvring.

“Labour Minister von der Leyen is ducking the question as to how high the base rate of the benefits should go,” Greens parliamentary leader Jürgen Trittin told Tuesday’s Rheinische Post. “The debate about non-cash benefits for education and the education “chip card” distract from the heart of the problem.”

The standard benefit had to be raised to €420, he said. Trittin added: “The model for the education chip card doesn’t help, because it’s about a voluntary benefit of the community. That means cities such as Düsseldorf can make them available. In Duisburg and Gelsenkirchen, where there are budget strains, this will not be possible. Yet that’s where (the benefits) are needed.”

Von der Leyen hit back at the criticism. Nothing could be definitely determined about the rate of benefits until a study on the everyday burdens of 60,000 households were tallied, she said.

The centre-left Social Democrats deputy parliamentary leader, Hubertus Heil, told the Braunschweiger Zeitung that he feared the government had not put enough thought into how it would actually pay for future benefits rates.

He said he could “only warn against turning to tricks to artificially calculate lower rates.”


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