Shelters: Are cuts for single refugees legal?

Are cuts for single refugees legal?

Three young men in the canteen area of ​​an emergency shelter in Offenburg. photo

© Philipp von Ditfurth/dpa

Asylum seekers who live alone in collective accommodation receive less money. This is justified with possible savings: For example, you could cook together. Now Karlsruhe intervenes.

Since 2019, single refugees have received less money if they live in collective accommodation – too little, critics say. You brought the question before the Federal Constitutional Court. The Karlsruhe judges have now come to a decision in the proceedings. The decision will be published today. People in collective accommodation currently receive 330 euros a month. Other single asylum seekers are entitled to 367 euros.

The background is that three years ago the then federal government of CDU/CSU and SPD introduced a “special need level” for those affected. You get ten percent less – according to the rate for people who are married or living with a partner.

Working together can “be expected”

This was justified with possible savings through the joint management of the residents. Such effects exist, for example, when eating, “by buying groceries or at least the basic kitchen needs together in larger quantities and using them together in the communal kitchens,” as the explanatory statement states. A co-economy can be “expected”.

The Society for Freedom Rights (GFF) considers this unrealistic: “The fluctuation in the facilities is huge, plus there are language barriers and different cultural and religious backgrounds.” In addition, the residents had not voluntarily decided to live together.

In order to have the regulation checked in Karlsruhe, the GFF drew up a template that a judge at the Düsseldorf Social Court made use of. The specific case concerns a man from Sri Lanka, born in 1982, who has been living in shared accommodation near Düsseldorf since 2014.

“Roommates okay but not close relationship”

“My roommates are okay, but we don’t have a close relationship,” GFF quoted the plaintiff in an interview from April 2021. As a Hindu, he doesn’t eat beef and only eats vegetarian once in the evening during fasting periods. But even with joint purchases, no money can be saved from his point of view. “If I cook rice for four people, I need four times as much rice.”

The GFF does not have exact figures on how many refugees will be affected by the cut, but suspects that it may be more than 100,000. The federal government had indicated the savings potential from the new requirement level in 2019 at around 40 million euros per year.

If the First Senate declares the cuts to be unconstitutional, only those affected who have lodged an objection or sued against their benefit notification are likely to benefit directly. Legally binding notifications cannot usually be challenged. Presumably, however, the benefits would have to be increased accordingly for the future.


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