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Government under fire for €5 Hartz IV increase

The Local · 27 Sep 2010, 08:13

Published: 27 Sep 2010 08:13 GMT+02:00

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In the wake of the government’s revelation on Sunday that under its welfare shake-up, the 4.7 million adult recipients of Hartz IV benefits would receive a smaller boost than expected, opposition parties vowed to fight the changes.

From next year, Hartz IV recipients will receive €364 rather than the current €359. For the roughly two million children in families that are dependent on Hartz IV, there will be no extra money at all.

Those children will, however, be eligible for extra non-cash benefits such as access to more education services.

A decision about whether to change the cap on additional income Hartz IV recipients may earn before it affects their benefits has been delayed. That decision will affect about 1.3 million people who use Hartz IV to top up incomes that are not sufficient to survive and raise a family.

Senior members of the centre-right coalition of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) agreed on Sunday to Labour Minister Ursula von der Leyen’s recommendation for the small rise.

Merkel said the remainder of the package of reforms would be finalised in the next month. The government has been forced to make the changes by a Constitutional Court ruling in February that stated that the way in which Hartz IV rates were calculated was unconstitutional.

Green leader Cem Özdemir told the Hamburger Abendblatt: “The federal government has an immoral compass.”

The centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) deputy chairwoman, Manuela Schwesig, told daily Süddeutsche Zeitung that Minister von der Leyen was “horse-trading on the weakest in society.”

The SPD’s acting parliamentary leader Joachim Poß told the Leipziger Volkszeitung that the party would oppose the modest rise both politically and legally.

Story continues below…

“I have great doubts whether the calculation … hasn’t been fiddled,” he said.

Von der Leyen defended the changes Sunday night, telling broadcaster ARD the coalition’s overriding concern was to ensure the long-term unemployed had an incentive to find work.

“We have long-term unemployed who need work – now let’s get to work on that,” she said.

DPA/The Local/dw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

09:16 September 27, 2010 by Joshontour
The Hartz 4 program does not offer benefits sufficient to lift recipients out of poverty, and despite a strong economy, the majority of families who have moved off the Hartz 4 rolls have remained in poverty. I am convinced that it is because recipients are compelled to take the first job available to them, instead of being encouraged to find gainful employment. Germany needs comprehensive welfare reform, not cut and paste policy changes. Is it only coincidence that Hartz 4 reforms have coincided with increased disparities in wealth and income between rich and poor? I am all for individuals becoming wealthy through hard work and dedication, but not at the expense of others. Of course there are people who abuse the system, and there is a whole bag of cliches to describe them; but there are also real families with real needs and real difficulties who need help.
10:02 September 27, 2010 by Talonx
@ Serenejean1

I agree with you, though in a different way than you would probably like. The biggest drain on the system are the wealthy who hide money and refuse to pay their share. Unfortunately they don't brag about it, if they did it would be far easier to find these freeloaders out. They benefit from German food regulations, military and police protection, and even economic regulations which have kept Germany well more than afloat this recession cycle.

Focusing on the poor (and even those who take advantage are poor) is just fishing for a red herring. The rich that don't pay taxes do far more damage.
14:26 September 27, 2010 by Jazzineva
Supposedly the refusal to give a realistic cost of living increase in benefits is to provide incentive for the unemployed to finally work. But what work? It's just not there for the majority who lost it. There are so many worthwhile projects that could be created which would be cheaper in the long run than just handing out the money. For instance, I know someone who was trained to assist old and handicapped people with their needs who was in a pilot project. He was long term unemployed and finally worked for more than a year with other former long term unemployed and everybody loved it. So what happened? The government shut it down and now all of these people will get long term unemployment while the needy aged no longer get assistance. Good job, Merkel.
14:57 September 27, 2010 by chicagolive
The main problem is the disconnect the government has to the hardships of the people, and the policies that they have that increases this burden. No welfare is not supposed to be end station for vacation, but the people who use it like that are a small percentage and they know very well how to keep from being affected by changes on the system. So nothing is hurting them, the only people who are being hurt are the ones who are in dire need, and how can we help that need give them a decent living while also giving them the opportunity to grow in mind and in wealth. 1 euro jobs are a bleeping joke it is just slave labor hell it is lower then slave labor my Great Great Grandfather got more for his work then the 1 euro jobbers and he was a slave.

Almost none of the companies actually give these people jobs even though they say that is the main purpose of the program. They just keep asking for the cheap labor that the government is providing them. Now back to what I said earlier about making living better, I little sympathy for the single people on welfare(unless so medical issue is involved that is different)they can suffer some and still get a better chance at something by the simple fact that the only one they have to worry about is themselves. Now people will children that is a whole other physical and psychological issue to deal with, when your children are constantly asking for this and that when you know if I take this job I might be off welfare but I will still be without anything.

What needs to happen is a total top down change in the system. Education is the single most important thing to end poverty and raise people out of poverty. Money does not solve anything when people are to dumb to handle it plan and simple. Tell the people listen we will take care of you and your family during this time of need and in turn you will go to school or through a training course to give you the increased chance of finding a viable position, because the majority of people on Hartz IV are under educated. Next make a minimum wage scheme it does not have to be high say €5 and it is not taxed minus the health care you have just now increased the power of people to be able to spend money in the country which in turn increases work flow.

People who are on welfare would not have their benefits cut as long as they are going to school or training. Now you have just increased their value to society and you have just giving them and their children a psychological boost of saying hey you are worth something. You can be come something and we are going to help you as a society to get their.
15:03 September 27, 2010 by catjones
The question is: what percentage leave the program every year and what percentage remain after 5,10,20,30 years?
15:25 September 27, 2010 by chicagolive
@ Krieg & @ Conquistador and how much did they give to Hypo Real Estate almost a 200 billion Euros
12:05 September 29, 2010 by closeenough
The solution is easy to see but almost impossible to implement. Higher taxes on the upper classes and severe limits on immigration. How can Hartz IV folks find a job worth having if wages are kept artificially low by the importation of cheap labor?
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