At 4.He has to be at work by 30 a.m., so Joachim Temmen* gets up at 3 a.m. From Monday to Friday, Temmen works 40 hours a day. As a driver. He brings vacuum cleaners, carpet cleaners and all kinds of cleaning products to where the cleaners need them, for a cleaning company in Madgeburg.
Temmen lives in a village nearby, he is allowed to use the van to get to and from work. Temmen doesn’t sleep that much, but works a lot, for which he unfortunately doesn’t get that much money. His wife works at home, raises their five-year-old child and runs the household. Temmen’s salary is not quite enough, so the Temmen-Maurers supplement it with Hartz IV, which is just enough if everything goes as planned.
In December things did not go as planned. The Temmen-Maurers received a demand for payment from their electricity provider. 200 euros and a few crushed. Temmen and Temmen’s partner and their five-year-old son, however, did not have 200 Euros and a few crushed ones. It was just before Christmas, and they couldn’t pay their electricity bill.
Price increased by 27 percent
"Dear Ladies and Gentlemen", the Temmen-Maurers’ electricity supplier wrote in autumn, "you have certainly already heard it from the press and media: some price components beyond our control have changed". What the Eon subsidiary E wie einfach wanted to tell the Temmen-Maurers: The energy price per kilowatt hour was now 34.34 cents instead of 27.08 cents. An increase of around 27 percent.
"We were faced with a huge problem: we didn’t know anyone to pump up, so where were we going to get the money from??"The Temmen-Maurers offered E wie einfach a payment in installments, within the next few months they wanted to pay off the debt. Again there was mail from E wie einfach, this time by mail: "Dear Elisabeth", that is Ms. Maurer’s first name, "unfortunately we cannot offer an installment plan for your bill. We are sorry. Since you have had some irregular payments in the past, an installment plan is unfortunately not an option."
E wie einfach always wants the budget payments on the first of the month, but when Temmen switched there in January 2020, they didn’t pay the electricity until the 15. January, the day when his salary came, and this gave them just that entry, which now tempted the electricity provider to refuse an installment payment of 200 euros and a few crushed: "So please pay the outstanding amount of 200 euros and a few crushed as soon as possible. P.S.: You can also find all the info in your app. Many greetings. Your E-wie-einfach team."
230.000 people have had their electricity cut off
With the welfare associations one knows this giant problem, and not only since the drastic price increase with the river in the year 2021. Who can not pay, the electricity is turned off. In many cities, debtor and social counseling centers mediate between those affected and electricity providers in the event of threatened power cuts; they can often enforce installment payments and prevent power cuts. Nevertheless, in 2020 still 230.000 consumers in Germany because of unpaid bills the electricity cut off.
Elisabeth Maurer did not want to give up yet and turned to the job center, she made an application for assumption of costs. "Dear Ms. Maurer," replied the Jobcenter, "unfortunately, your application from the 5. January 2022 be rejected."The payment of the standard needs is made on a lump-sum basis according to fixed standard rates: "The standard needs to ensure subsistence include, in particular, food, clothing, personal hygiene, household goods, household energy, excluding the portions attributable to heating, as well as needs of daily living."It is possible to approve additional needs – but not if there are higher allowances for earned income, as in the case of the Temmen-Maurers. In other words, electricity is household energy, so is covered by the standard needs, and if that is not enough, yes Mr. Temmen works. Of Mr. Temmen’s wage was in December 2021 but nothing left. "And there we stood. No one came to meet us, not electricity providers, not the employment office. And now?"
Maybe, Temmen thought, he could ask his boss if he could get an advance payment. The boss promised an advance of 100 euros, which he would then pay on the 15th. January directly from Temmen’s salary, and the other 100 euros and a few Zerquetschte could pay Temmen himself. Then Temmen and Maurer would have to save strongly, in January. But the main thing is electricity. Because, you also have to know this: At the Temmen-Maurers, the hot water runs on electricity, they have an old boiler. A new boiler would save electricity, but they don’t get it from the landlord, and they can’t afford it themselves.
What remains: Sausage with bread
Three years ago, the Temmen-Maurers were also sitting in the cold, in winter. "The old landlord, he was so old, he couldn’t get everything right here," says Temmen, "our oil heating was broken, and for three weeks he sent no one, it was cold here."When Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) now says something like that he is against the job centers taking over the heating costs completely, because that invites people to turn up the heating and open the window, then Temmen thinks: "People who say something like that can simply never have been in such a situation. Impossible. They can’t know anyone who’s ever been in a situation like that either. When Habeck spends three weeks in winter without heating, with a small child, then we’ll talk more."
Temmen made a plan to simply pay the 200 euros and a few crushed ones in mid-January, when his wages would come in. But the second demand for payment was not long in coming, with the friendly reminder that there could be serious consequences for non-payment. P.S.You can find all the information in your app. Many greetings. Your E-wie-einfach team."The electricity cut-off was just around the corner.
There Elisabeth Maurer the idea came to inquire times with the initiative sanction-free whether the advice would know for the installment payment or assumption of costs with the job center. Sanktionsfrei campaigns for the abolition of sanctions in Hartz IV, Maurer knew her from Facebook when she had once searched for social advice. She called sanction-free. There the giant problem met a giant miracle: Sanction-free took over the 200 euros and a few zerquetschte.
Temmen was flabbergasted. "I’m still flabbergasted. We were in a situation where we didn’t know what to do anymore. And they have, I have to say now really times, saved our asses."
The giant problem however, says Temmen, remains. The increase in electricity prices has hardly had any impact on the 2021 annual bill, and the big bill won’t come until 2022. "We’re already discussing how we can save," says Temmen. Maybe at dinner. "But the little one," says Temmen, "should be fed in a varied way, my partner cooks every day, with vegetables, and there should also be fruit."
But that is becoming increasingly difficult, "it starts with the bread roll at the bakery, and then fruit and vegetables, that has become really expensive. So in the evenings we often had a sausage and bread. Good is not." And well Temmen also does not find, what they buy there, in the supermarket. "We take it upon ourselves to pay attention to quality seals. We would like to buy things where we know: There it runs correctly. But it simply does not work."Temmen has already stopped smoking because there wasn’t enough money. They also got rid of the car when it had to be inspected by the TuV, for which there wasn’t enough money. Where could they save? Maybe on vacation? "On vacation?", Temmen laughs. "Nah, vacation plans haven’t been in place for a long time now. There are no plans at the moment anyway."
* Names have been changed
this article is free for you.
Independent and critical journalism needs however also in these times support. We would therefore be pleased if you subscribe to Freitag here or try 3 issues free of charge. We would like to thank you in advance!