“Citizen’s money” instead of hartz iv: these five things are now coming to those affected

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What to expect from the traffic light coalition

"Citizen’s Income" instead of Hartz IV: These five things are now coming to those affected

Manuel Kugler

Politics and economics

Sanctions remain, additional earnings rules are improved: FDP leader Christian Lindner (re.), here with SPD chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz, has pushed through a number of things in the exploratory talks. © Kay Nietfeld, dpa

Nuremberg – Hartz IV will be called "citizen’s income" in the future, remains in the core however. Nevertheless, five things are in store for those affected with a traffic light coalition.

Christmas is still two months away, but Detlef Scheele has already handed in his wish list. It was obvious that the negotiators of the future traffic light coalition had also inquired at the Federal Employment Agency, what it thinks about the reform plans for Hartz IV, says the head of the authority. But what exactly is on his wish list to the traffic lights, Scheele does not want to reveal. From the exploratory paper and the recent statements by the SPD, Greens and FDP, however, it is already possible to foresee what measures could soon be launched.

1. In future, people will have to use up less of their assets before they receive Hartz IV benefits

Currently, due to the Corona pandemic, more generous rules apply to the question of the so-called "Schonvermogen". "We are examining which of these rules we want to continue", it is called in the exploratory paper of the traffic light parties. This goes back to corresponding wishes of SPD and FDP. At the moment, anyone who applies for basic benefits by the end of 2021 will not have to undergo a means test.

Hartz IV becomes "citizen’s income": The traffic light coalition is deceptive in its labeling

Normally, only those who do not have "substantial assets" receive Hartz IV decrees. Considerable assets are "immediately realizable" assets such as cash, savings accounts, jewelry and stocks from 60.000 euros for the first household member and 30.000 for each additional. These rates should be raised in the future to better recognize people’s life achievements.

2. Fewer people than before will have to move if they fall into Hartz IV

Also, according to the exploratory paper, the three traffic light parties want to examine the rules on how much housing basic income recipients are allowed to dispose of. Despite differences from municipality to municipality, the usual rule is that a person in rented housing may have a maximum of 45 to 50 square meters at their disposal. For two people it is 60 square meters, for each additional person 15 square meters are added.

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Somewhat more living space is granted to people who live in their own property: One to two people are allowed 80 (apartment) resp. 90 square meters (house) inhabit, three people 100/110 square meters and four 120/130 square meters. Those who have more must (sub)rent or sell their property. These rules are also currently not enforced for a period of six months due to Corona, because those affected should not be expected to move in pandemic times. In the future, square footage limits could be raised.

3. Who earns something in addition, must deliver soon less

Better opportunities to earn additional income was one of the FDP’s concerns that has now made it into the exploratory paper. Until now, strict limits have applied: Basic security recipients are only allowed to earn an extra 100 euros without this being offset against Hartz IV – so these 100 euros end up completely in the pockets of those affected. With an income between 100 and 1000 euro are against it only 20 per cent imputation-free, with between 1000 and 1200 euro then 10 per cent. Future traffic light coalition will make rules more attractive to increase incentive to take up work – as possible first step of a ‘treadable ladder’ (FDP election program) out of Hartz IV.

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4. Sanctions remain, but will probably be weakened

"To obligations to cooperate we hold firmly", it is called quite clearly in the exploratory paper, although with the addition, one examines "like we debureaucratize here". Among the obligations to cooperate is, for example, that Hartz IV recipients must provide proof of illness in the form of a certificate of incapacity for work, submit account statements on request and attend appointments at the Job Center – otherwise they face sanctions such as the reduction of the Hartz IV rate. The Greens demanded the abolition of all sanctions, but could not prevail in the explorations. A slowdown, however, is likely to come for a very different reason: The Federal Constitutional Court had ruled in 2019 that cutting Hartz IV by 60 or even 100 percent is unconstitutional. The new coalition is now likely to enshrine this in law in a new regulation.

5. There may be more money for those affected after all

Not a word is contained in the exploratory paper on the question of whether the Hartz IV standard rate will be increased, as social welfare associations have been demanding for a long time. At the moment, single adults receive 446 euros a month – in 2022 it will be three euros more. Rent and heating costs are paid by the job center. In recent days, however, the discussion among the future coalition partners has gained momentum. SPD leader Saskia Esken told the taz, The "citizen’s income must be "adequate" and recalculated. The Greens had demanded 50 euros more anyway. There is actually a chance that the FDP will agree to an increase – because of the agreed increase in the minimum wage to twelve euros. A higher subsistence level would thus be possible without violating the so-called wage gap principle. In other words: The FDP’s concern that work would no longer pay would remain unfounded.

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