The new citizens’ allowance has been in effect since New Year’s Day. Did the start go well – and what should change for those affected? The responsible minister provides information.
A few days after the start of the new citizens’ allowance, Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil drew a positive first balance. “The payments are going smoothly,” said the SPD politician to the German Press Agency in Berlin. Citizens’ income had replaced Hartz IV in its previous form on January 1st. The standard rates of basic security have increased by around 50 euros. So there are now 502 euros per month for single and single parents entitled to benefits.
Heil said: “It was important to me that the citizen’s income was more closely linked to the current inflation trend.” Critics have repeatedly complained that the amount of the Hartz IV rates lags behind the actual need. According to a study commissioned by the Confederation of German Trade Unions (DGB), those affected had to accept a severe loss of purchasing power in the past year because of the high inflation because inflation had risen over the course of the year.
Now the mechanism for determining the amount of standard requirements has been supplemented by an additional step, explained Heil. “With this new step, the expected price development is taken into account using more recent inflation data.”
Citizens’ income will be introduced in two steps
Heil said further: “The citizen’s allowance is the biggest social reform in decades. That’s why it’s being introduced in two steps so as not to overwhelm the job center.” In a first step, in addition to increasing the so-called standard requirements, the job centers were relieved of unnecessary bureaucracy. “In addition, we have streamlined the applications and completely digitized them,” said Heil. Citizens’ allowance can be easily applied for online right from the start. “This is an important step that makes a lot easier for the citizens and the job centers,” said Heil.
“The further implementation will take place on July 1st, because the job centers must also be able to implement the reform technically and organizationally cleanly.” The job centers do a lot – but they are also very busy, for example with the integration of refugees. “We take this into account with the two-stage process.” The planned labor market policy improvements would be implemented in the second stage.
“We make sure that people are qualified to gain a permanent foothold in the job market,” says Heil. This is now being gradually built up. “The start was successful and the further implementation is taking place step by step.” In addition to unbureaucratic and reliable security, the most important thing is “that we get people back to work in the long term”. Catching up on a professional qualification has priority over placement in an auxiliary position. Because two-thirds of the long-term unemployed had no completed vocational training.
For example, anyone who catches up on vocational training can receive an additional 150 euros per month as further training money. “Citizen’s income is about getting people out of need, for example through a professional qualification.” In this way, it will also make a contribution to job and skilled worker security. Among other things, the law stipulates that people receiving citizenship benefit can receive holistic coaching. The coaching should also be outreach, training or employment-related.
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