Bürgergeld not enough to cover recipient's electricity bills, study finds
Since the beginning of the year, the new Bürgergeld benefit has replaced Hartz IV as Germany’s basic subsistence benefit, offering higher payments to beneficiaries. But according to a new study by the comparison portal Check24, even the increased benefits are not enough to cover rising utility bills.
Bürgergeld doesn’t cover electricity bills, Check24 finds
According to Check24, the new Bürgergeld does not cover the cost of the recipient’s electricity and gas any better than Hartz IV did before - a conclusion that has been supported by the social associations VdK and Der Paritätische.
Under the new scheme, the standard rate for a single adult has risen by around 53 euros to 502 euros per month. Part of this is a “basic income standard rate” - a payment based on government estimates which is supposed to cover living and energy expenses (but not rent). The standard rate averages out at around 511 euros per year for a single person.
However, Check24 found from an analysis of the prices offered by electricity suppliers on its platform that the average cost for a single-person household using 1.500 kilowatt hours per year amounted to 641 euros, even with the electricity price cap in place. “This means that electricity costs are 25 percent higher than the flat rate,” Check24 said in a statement.
A spokesperson for the Federal Employment Agency in Nuremberg explained to tagesschau that, while gas payments could generally be readjusted at the appropriate level by Jobcenters themselves, the standard rate for electricity is determined by legislature and adjusted annually, giving Jobcenters no leeway to adjust payments in line with rapidly rising costs.
Benefits not enough to ensure basic subsistence level, associations say
Although the standard rate for electricity was increased significantly at the beginning of the year, social associations like VdK and Der Paritätische say that Check24’s figures show it has not risen enough. “The amount estimated for electricity costs is far too low,” VdK President Verene Bentele said in a statement. “This has not changed fundamentally even with the adjustment.”
Ulrich Schneider, general manager at Der Paritätische, said skyrocketing energy costs were exacerbating hardships for people living on basic social security. “The benefits, which are actually supposed to secure a decent subsistence level, are not enough to get through the month,” he told tagesschau. “For single households, the costs are almost twice as high as what is officially granted.”
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