Lower penalties for Hartz IV recipients: Basic income through the back door?

The Bundestag discussed this for the first time on Friday: the federal government wants to suspend sanctions for breaching the duties of recipients of unemployment benefit II (“Hartz IV”) – initially for one year. It relies on the Federal Constitutional Court, which in 2019 called for new rules on violations of duties by the unemployed. According to the calculations of the federal government, additional expenditures should reach 12 million euros in 2022.

But it is about more. The “freeze of penalties” stipulated in the traffic light is intended to be only a temporary solution. Because the actual plan is: the citizen’s money. The SPD has had a new regulation on unemployment benefits in mind for a long time. The shock of Agenda 2010 continues to be linked to Hartz IV. Social democracy remains deeply divided on this issue. Citizen money must not only erase memory – it must correct an ideological mistake.

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Exactly what the traffic light depicts as income for citizens is still open. Because the suspension was only supposed to apply from July to the end of 2022. But now the traffic light is changing and the moratorium has been extended to twelve months. This is no less exciting because the FDP has scored against the SPD and the Greens as not only the first part of the “Fördern und Demanden” concept remains.

Liberals’ Concerns: Citizen’s income could be the gateway to an unconditional basic income; A kind of Trojan horse that writes red and green in the social canon and then expands it. So the FDP had previously insisted on a deadline until the end of 2022; And those who don’t meet the deadlines, so the liberals desire, should still get a cut in benefits of up to 10 percent. Once the moratorium expires, it should be possible to make cuts of up to 30 percent again.

Upon materializing the plans, the FDP found itself in a strange alliance. Because even job centers seem to fear that very gentle punishments will encourage abuse. Without consequences, it is difficult for employees to threaten job seekers with violating their duties.

TE Two years ago, I reported jittery moods in the workplace. Until then, one employee said, “The penalties I have are really none.” The “sanctions story” has been “amplified” by the media. The truth will look different. Cheating has been widespread. “In the end, this was the only way to pressure us money-providers to stop the services.”

until the Southgerman newspaperabout which many of its radical streaks are not known in the market, talks about the protest in the duty stations: “Without penalties, Hartz recipients will dance on our heads,” headlines in Munich.

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There is also disagreement at the public hearing of experts on the subject of labor and social affairs. The Chairman of the Federal Employment Agency (BA) Board of Directors, Detlev Scheele, described the current practice of sanctions as “entirely reasonable”. There are few complaints and conflicts. Legal scholar Professor Gregor Thusing has criticized the bill for interfering “deeply” with the principle of claim and promotion. The current situation is “constitutional”.

Holger Schaefer of the Cologne Institute for Economic Research explained that the sanctions had a “short-term beneficial effect” on reintegration into the labor market. Sanctions must be maintained and applied as confirmed by the Federal Constitutional Court. Accordingly, a “full punishment” is possible in the event of a complete refusal. This is also important in terms of fairness to other Hartz IV recipients. They called for everyone to follow the rules.

The German Trade Union Confederation (DGB), Verdi Services, Caritas and Diakonie and the German Equality Welfare Foundation criticized the sanctions and welcomed their lifting.


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