Vote on social reform: Bundestag agrees to compromise on citizens’ income

Status: 11/25/2022 11:11 am

After the agreement in the mediation committee, the Bundestag decided with a large majority to introduce citizen income. In order for the new basic security to come into force as planned on January 1st, the Federal Council still has to approve it.

With a large majority, the Bundestag has initiated the replacement of the Hartz IV basic security by a citizen’s allowance at the beginning of 2023. With 557 votes in favour, 98 against and two abstentions, the deputies accepted a compromise of the mediation committee of the Bundestag and Bundesrat. In addition to the government factions SPD, Greens and FDP, the Union had also announced approval from the opposition.

compromise in the mediation committee

The Federal Council should also agree in the course of the morning. The law would then be finalized. In the Bundesrat, the traffic light coalition is also dependent on votes from countries in which the Union is involved in government for the required majority. Their approval was now expected after concessions had been made by the traffic lights in the mediation committee.

With the compromise reached in the federal-state committee on Wednesday evening, the requirements for people receiving citizen income were tightened somewhat compared to the coalition’s original plans. Violations of the obligation to cooperate can now be sanctioned from the start with benefit cuts. The amount of one’s own assets, which those receiving basic income do not have to touch initially, and the length of the waiting period during which the appropriateness of an apartment and the amount of assets are not checked have also been reduced.

Higher standard rate, more training

For more than five million adults and children in the previous Hartz IV basic security, the monthly payments will be significantly increased from the beginning of the year. A single adult will then receive 502 euros per month, which is 53 euros more than before. Couples and children also receive more money.

The conversion of the unemployment benefit II introduced under Red-Green in 2005 into a citizen’s benefit is intended to focus on qualification and further training in order to place more unemployed people in permanent employment. These parts of the reform are scheduled to come into force on July 1st.

“Hart IV is history”

The parliamentary director of the SPD parliamentary group, Katja Mast, spoke of the largest social reform in decades: “Hartz IV is history.” The parliamentary director of the Union faction, Thorsten Frei (CDU), emphasized that the Union had achieved in the mediation process that the basic principle of demanding and promoting was adhered to. His colleague from the FDP, Johannes Vogel, explained that he had succeeded in “making a good law even better”.

The deputy chairwoman of the left-wing faction, Gesine Lötzsch, justified her faction’s rejection by saying that the increase in the standard rate was too low and that the core of the Hartz IV system would be retained. The parliamentary director of the AfD parliamentary group, Götz Frömming, accused the Union and the traffic light parties of “Gekungel” in the mediation committee.

City day calls for more help for job centers

In the meantime, the German Association of Cities called for better financial support for the job centers in view of the additional burdens due to citizen income and housing allowances as well as other refugees. “The job centers can handle this Herculean task,” said managing director Helmut Dedy to the “Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland”: “But they need extensive financial resources for more staff and the procedures.” If the federal government changes the framework conditions at the turn of the year, it must also provide financial support.

Dedy expects a greater workload due to an increase in Ukrainian refugees and the housing benefit reform. “The job centers are facing a major challenge,” he said. Higher standard rates did not lead to significantly more applications. However, the job centers expected more beneficiaries from more refugees from Ukraine, emphasized the general manager.

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