Study: Inflation pushes Hartz IV recipients below subsistence level - criticism of the federal government

First the corona pandemic, then the Ukraine war and finally the energy crisis: inflation is felt by practically all citizens when shopping in the supermarket or when paying bills.

Study: Inflation pushes Hartz IV recipients below subsistence level - criticism of the federal government

First the corona pandemic, then the Ukraine war and finally the energy crisis: inflation is felt by practically all citizens when shopping in the supermarket or when paying bills. However, the price increases particularly affected recipients of Hartz IV and basic security. This is proven by a study by the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB), which is available to the star. Accordingly, by the end of 2022, the purchasing power of those receiving basic social security had fallen so much that they de facto slipped below the subsistence level.

The DGB emphasizes: "The poverty and undersupply situations of those receiving basic security have worsened considerably in 2021 and especially in 2022 due to the price increases." This affects both Hartz IV recipients and recipients of basic security in old age and in the case of reduced earning capacity as well as social assistance. The same rule sets apply to these groups. The benefits for asylum seekers are even lower.

As early as 2021, the purchasing power of people living alone fell by almost 170 euros, for couples with two young children it was a good 580 euros, according to the DGB. The situation was even more dramatic last year: "In 2022, the inflation-related losses - even taking into account countermeasures by the federal government - will add up to almost three times." However, this value relates to people who are not entitled to the flat-rate energy price. Expressed in figures, the loss of purchasing power of a single person would therefore amount to 470 euros in 2022. For a couple family with two children, it is around 1600 euros.

Accordingly, this example family should have received an additional 1600 euros last year in order to be able to maintain the real value of the basic security and thus the specific level of care. The DGB refers to the constitutional requirement that the socio-cultural subsistence level must always be covered, even in the event of sudden price increases. This was not achieved with the one-time payments granted by the federal government.

The question is whether the federal government has kept its promise to "leave no one alone in the crisis." According to the study, the adjustment mechanism that updates the standard rates for recipients of basic security is blind to the current price increases.

The rates were raised by 0.76 percent on January 1st. In December 2022, on the other hand, the development of "prices relevant to the standard rate", i.e. in particular food prices, rose by at least 11.7 percent compared to the previous month.

The DGB sees the introduction of citizen income and the associated improved adjustment mechanisms to inflation as a glimmer of hope. The standard rate for single people rose by 53 euros from January 1st, i.e. by 11.8 percent. With this increase, the forecast inflation rate of 9.5 percent would be offset or even exceeded. However, the editors of the study emphasize that this increase was by no means deliberately chosen, but just a coincidence due to extrapolation of the past few years. A systematic adjustment for inflation is not guaranteed.

That is why the DGB is calling for this inflation compensation to be guaranteed. To do this, the legislature must react much more spontaneously to sudden price increases and adjust the standard rates accordingly: "The standard rates must always rise at least as much as the prices," according to the DGB.

With material from AFP

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