Germany’s Bürgergeld unemployment benefit set to increase by 12 percent
Unemployed people who claim Citizens' Allowance (Bürgergeld) in Germany will soon receive a slightly larger payment into their bank accounts to help cover their living costs each month.
German Bürgergeld to increase to 563 euros per month
German Labour Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) has announced that the coalition government will increase the amount of money that Bürgergeld claimants receive each month. From 2024, people who claim the unemployment benefit - which was previously known as Hartz IV - will receive 563 euros, rather than 502 euros, per month.
Bürgergeld is the social security benefit that people who have worked in Germany can apply for if they have been on unemployment benefits (Arbeitslosengeld) for a prolonged period and have still not been able to find a new job, or if they have work but need a top-up to their low wage. “Especially in the current crisis and in times of crisis and upheaval, one must be able to rely on the welfare state,” Heil said in Berlin while announcing the new measure.
The amount of money that Bürgergeld recipients are granted each month depends on their marital and parental status. From 2024, the amount that parents receive for their children between 15 to 18 years old will also increase, from 420 euros to 471 euros per month. For children between 7 and 14 years old it will increase to 390 euros and, for those under 6 years old, to 357 euros.
Politicians and organisations react to the Bürgergeld rise
The reason that the decision to increase monthly payments is happening now, is because when the coalition government decided to replace Hartz IV with Bürgergeld, the policy change included that payments would be more regularly adjusted to inflation. Since the invasion of Ukraine, German inflation rates have been shooting up, and are only now beginning to stabilise. For that reason, some have said that the extra money is coming a little too late for those who need it.
Verena Bentele, President of the Sozialverband VdK, an organisation that monitors changes to the German social security system and how well the system meets people's needs, said that “the increase of the standard rates [had come] much too late in view of the continuing inflation”.
The National Parity Association added not just that the additional money was too late, but that it was not enough to offset a loss in purchasing power that has been seen across Germany or to stop people falling into poverty, which would require a monthly payment of at least 813 euros for single households.
On the other side of the discussion, CDU politician Jens Spahn criticised the decision to better fund Bürgergeld, arguing in an interview with Bild that “Those who work, should have more money than those who don’t”.
With the German minimum wage currently at 12 euros per hour, once Heil’s new policy is in place in 2024, it will still be the case that even employees working part-time for minimum wage will receive more money each month than Bürgergeld recipients. However, with the rising cost of living and rent, many people receiving Bürgergeld, working part-time or full-time for low wages alike, will still struggle to pay their bills.
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