No more penalties for Hartz IV recipients

FIt’s a political success for the unemployed who don’t comply with the Jobcentre specification and their representatives: The SPD, the Greens and the FDP want to pass a law in the Bundestag on Thursday that would impose penalties – i.e. reductions in benefits – on Hartz IV recipients who do not want to work being banned. so far. It indicates a kind of double turning point in social policy: the principle of support and demands established by the Red-Green Alliance in 2005 was suspended. In addition, the current coalition publicly opposes the labor market policy recommendations of the Federal Employment Agency; This is also new.

At the beginning of the week, the Nuremberg authorities made clear to the MPs their position on dealing with the sanctions imposed on uncooperative Hartz IV recipients: the legal principle for the promotion and demand for correspondence.” This is stated in the statement of the Federal Agency for Hearings in the Bundestag. In addition, the President of the Library of Alexandria, Detlev, presented Shel, his point is there in person.

According to the federal agency, it will become more questionable if, on the one hand, refusal to work will not lead to penalties in the future – on the other hand, high net worth people can also draw a Hartz IV if they have no current income. Because asset testing for access to basic social security has been suspended since the Corona crisis. Ultimately, such a combination “calls into question the social consensus regarding basic services”.

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But there is also the opposing position of social associations, such as that represented by Diakonie: since the Hartz IV rate is so low anyway, recipients should not generally be reduced – even if they refuse reasonable action. This is questionable in terms of human rights, Diakonie judges. On the other hand, the municipalities, represented by the city council and the county council, share the analysis of the federal agency. They also presented their opinions to the deputies. In cooperation with the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, they are responsible for organizing basic security in the welfare state.

The Greens want an unconditional basic income

But for the traffic lights, the focus of the legislative process has been on criteria other than their experience: it’s a favored project for the Greens, and especially the social politicians, who would have preferred an alliance with the Left Party. This is how the so-called moratorium on sanctions made it into the Red-Green-Yellow Alliance Agreement. From the Greens’ point of view, that’s a really big concession, because they’re seeking some kind of unconditional basic income under the term “guaranteed.”

The FDP clearly doesn’t think much about the moratorium. But even in the SPD there are still credible assurances that, in their opinion, a good welfare state needs a duty to cooperate. The political success of the SPD and the FDP is now that the traffic light suspends penalties for a limited period of time, until June 2023. There is also an exception: Those who ignore assignments to the duty station must continue to fear a cut in benefits of up to 10 percent. Whoever refuses to work without reason will be immune from the consequences.

Frank Bisirsek, the former head of the Verdi trade union and now the social policy spokesperson for the Green Party in the Bundestag, campaigned for a moratorium without exceptions to the end and justified it as follows: there was not enough scientific evidence that sanctions would create unemployed at work. “On the other hand, many punishments have been proven wrongly imposed and rejected by the social courts” – so they have to leave. However, the wrong imposition of “many” sanctions depends on the point of view. Official statistics show that of the 3.6 million employable Hartz IV recipients at the start of the year, 58,000 were subject to some form of punishment. That’s 1.6 percent. Statistics currently show 2,800 pending cases in which the affected are suing the social courts against the penalties. In previous years, about 10 to 15 percent of these lawsuits were successful.

‘No business model’ penalties for employment centers

However, the federal agency and local authorities tirelessly stress that sanctioning employment centers is “not a business model.” Because that lies in helping job seekers; More than 95 percent of the beneficiaries had nothing to do with the sanctions. They still matter – on the one hand, as a handle against some notorious naysayers. On the other hand, they assume that about 20 percent of benefit recipients would be “excited” to participate simply through the possibility of a penalty.

The Traffic Light Coalition now has its own interpretation of the extent to which the moratorium is a “turning point”: Labor Secretary Hubertus Hill (SPD) wants to spark the first phase of a far-reaching basic security reform titled “Bürgergeld” as early as January 1, 2023. According to this interpretation, The Moratorium is a transitional regulation on the way to the new era without the old term “Hartz 4”. As expected, however, the essence of this first reform phase should not be any spectacular changes, but above all steps towards more individualized support for ‘customers’ in duty stations.

At the same time, the current traffic light agreement on the moratorium states that duty stations may already impose penalties again from July 2023 – albeit likely in a somewhat narrower framework than before. Municipalities and the federal agency do not find the moratorium convincing, even if it appears as a transitional regulation: there is a risk “that the planned temporary changes in the field of requirements will not be adequately understood by clients or employees,” warns the BA. However, this would unnecessarily affect the “credibility and transparency of the action center’s procedures”.

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