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More money and less bureaucracy: How Germany wants to change its child benefits system

Rachel Stern
Rachel Stern - [email protected]
More money and less bureaucracy: How Germany wants to change its child benefits system
Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-tmn | Mascha Brichta

Germany recently expanded its child benefit payments to €250 per child. Now the government is looking to expand benefits further, in a centralised application system with less bureaucracy. Here's what you need to know.


Germany's coalition government has proposed eliminating the longstanding Kindergeld system at the beginning of 2025. But a more comprehensive benefits package (Kindergrundsicherung, or basic child allowance) is set to take its place.

Intended to reach all families in Germany, the government says it will be simpler to apply for than current child benefits and also include more support for those with lower incomes.


How much do parents currently receive?

All parents in Germany, regardless of their income, qualify for a monthly child benefit payment. They simply need to apply for it from their local Familienkasse, and can claim up to six months worth of back payments if they have not sent out an application before. This applies even to international families who just arrived to the Bundesrepublik.

On January 1st, the current child benefit payment (known as Kindergeld) was raised to a record amount of €250 per child. 

Previously the amount varied based on the number of children, with families receiving €219 per child for the first and second child, €225 for the third child, and €250 for any additional children.

READ ALSO: What benefits are you entitled to if you have children in Germany?

What will be different about Kindergrundsicherung?

Currently families can apply for further financial support in addition to Kindergeld. But welcome to the world of German bureaucracy: this can be very time-consuming and complicated, requiring numerous paper applications and documentation to various offices. 

Politicians pushing for the reform, such as Family Minister Lisa Paus (Greens), argue that parents get bogged down by the endless paperwork - or simply don't realise what benefits they're entitled to in the first place.

Through the reformed benefits system, families will be able to apply for a basic amount (currently also set to be €250 a month) plus extra add-ons through just one online application. 

Children in a Kita

Children work on a drawing together in a Kita. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Stiftung Haus der kleinen Forscher | Christoph Wehrer

They also won't have to dig around for proof of income and other documentation, as a new Kindergrundsicherungstelle will be directly in contact with the Finanzamt (tax office)

Through the new procedure, receiving child benefits is set to become simpler and more uniform, according to a draft by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth.

How much will families receive?

According to the plans, the basic amount will be set at at least €250 a month.

The lump sum is to be reviewed every two years and adjusted by the government if necessary, for example if inflation continues to soar. 

In a move intended to help families in greater financial need, the payment won't be able to be offset against other social benefits such as citizen's allowance (Bürgergeld) if parents also receive them.


"We want to strengthen families and get more children out of poverty," the draft states.

The second monthly benefit would include an education benefit (currently to be €15), and for children's housing costs (currently €150). Unlike the guaranteed basic amount, the parents' income will determine if they receive these add-ons.

EXPLAINED: What foreign parents should know about German schools

Do parents have to do anything now?

Parents do not have to take any action at present. They cannot apply for funds yet, because the Kindergrundsicherung is so far only a political project - albeit a concrete one. 

The draft law should be ready by the end of this summer, with the hopes it will be approved by the Bundestag shortly there after .

At present, however, a dispute has flared up about the possible additional costs of the reform compared to the current system - with Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) the largest critic.

"Higher money transfers aren't the silver bullet," he told the news portal T-Online last week.

FDP leader Christian Lindner

FDP leader Christian Lindner speaks at a press conference n Sunday following the election results. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sebastian Gollnow

Paus countered on Tuesday in the "ARD-Morgenmagazin" that the basic child allowance would cost more money, if only because existing benefits were to reach people in Germany. That alone would cost the government around €5 billion.

"Which is money well spent, however, because it is an investment for the children, our future," Paus said. As an example, she cited the child supplement (Kinderzuschlag), a social benefit that only about one in three have applied for so far.

In total, she expects costs of around €12 billion for the new benefits package.

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