Germans frustrated by diminutive increase in Hartz IV benefit

Germans frustrated by diminutive increase in Hartz IV benefit

Recipients of Hartz IV in Germany are due to receive an increase in their monthly benefits at the beginning of next year. However, the increase has drawn intense criticism, as most people will only receive three euros more per month, while others will receive even less.

Hartz IV benefit to increase from next year

On Wednesday, the German federal cabinet decided that Hartz IV benefits will increase slightly from January 22, 2022. In accordance with the increase, the standard rate for single adults will increase by three euros, to a total of 449 euros a month. The monthly rate for young people between the ages of 14 and 17, as well as adults under the age of 25 with their own home, will also increase by three euros. Young people will now receive 376 euros a month and under 25s with their own home will receive 360 euros.

The monthly rate for children, up to the age of 5, living in a Hartz IV household will increase from 283 euros to 285 euros. For children aged between 6 and 13, the monthly rate will also increase by 2 euros, to a total of 311 euros.

Low increase due to coronavirus in Germany

The standard rate of Hartz IV benefits is based on the development of salaries and prices in Germany, in the past year. Coronavirus played a big part in these developments last year; wages in the country fell by 4,7 percent on average in the second quarter of 2020 alone. The coronavirus crisis also saw millions of Germans claim Kurzarbeit (a benefit that compensates employees who have had their working hours reduced), whilst many others lost their job. The German government cut VAT to help customers deal with the coronavirus crisis in the second half of 2020, effectively lowering prices.

At the beginning of this year, Hartz IV rates increased significantly more than they are due to in 2022. Single adults saw their monthly benefit rise by 14 euros, children between 14 and 17 received 45 euros more and the benefit for children aged 5 and under increased by 33 euros.

Politicians criticise next year’s benefit increase

The tiny increase in monthly benefits, which was organised by the Ministry of Social Affairs, has been excoriated by politicians, who say the increases do not reflect the rising cost of living in Germany. “Raising the standard rates by a measly 3 euros a month is little more than a pittance,” said Susanne Ferschl, vice chairwoman of The Left parliamentary group. “Rising consumer prices are causing the money to evaporate faster than it’s in the account.” Ferschl has since called for the standard rate of Hartz IV to be raised to 658 euros with immediate effect.

The leader of the German Green Party, Katrin Göring-Eckardt also criticised the move. A social policy expert for the Greens said that benefits should increase by at least 50 euros, “as a first step.”

The German Federation of Trade Unions (DGB) also weighed in with its criticisms, with a member of the DGB board telling reporters: “The planned increase of only 3 euros is significantly below the price trend.” Similarly, the president of the Social Association of Germany (VdK) blamed the government for abandoning those “who are least able to defend themselves.”

William Nehra


William Nehra

William studied a masters in Classics at the University of Amsterdam. He is a big fan of Ancient History and football, particularly his beloved Watford FC.

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