Basic child security: Traffic light dispute about child poverty and basic child security

Statements by Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) on increased child poverty in immigrant families and possible conclusions from this cause irritation at the social association VdK.

Basic child security: Traffic light dispute about child poverty and basic child security

Statements by Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) on increased child poverty in immigrant families and possible conclusions from this cause irritation at the social association VdK. President Verena Bentele was outraged by the debate about basic child security.

"It is irresponsible and antisocial to sacrifice the future of millions of children in small budget disputes," she told dpa.

Green leader Ricarda Lang also contradicted Lindner: "Various figures show us that we have had a problem with child poverty here in Germany for a long time," Lang told the news portal "ZDFheute.de". That is why the introduction of basic child security is important. "For me, the question of whether something should be done about child poverty does not depend on where you come from," said the Green Party leader.

DIW: "We measure poverty relatively"

At the weekend, Lindner had reported a need for advice not only on the financial, but also on the content of the measures against child poverty. Families who have immigrated to Germany since 2015 are particularly affected by child poverty, said the FDP politician on Sunday. He wanted to discuss how these children and young people could best be helped. In the case of "originally German families who have been here for a long time", however, child poverty has fallen significantly.

DIW President Marcel Fratzscher said in the "Aktuelle Hour" on WDR that Lindner ignored how poverty was measured. "We measure poverty in relative terms. That means all families, all people who live in a household with less than 60 percent of the median income, are described as poor." That is the statistical definition. "If you now have a lot of people who are even poorer, who are new to the country, then the average income will shift downwards. That means there are many German families who are no longer considered poor, because there are still a lot poorer ones have joined."

Figures confirm Lindner's statements

Figures from the Federal Employment Agency (BA) prove Lindner right. They show an increase in the number of foreign children who receive Hartz IV or citizen benefits. While their number was around 305,000 in December 2010, it was around 884,000 in December 2022. According to the BA, around 275,500 Ukrainian children and young people were the largest group to receive citizen benefits in March 2023. By far the second largest group were children and young people from Syria with around 213,400 recipients.

Unlike asylum seekers, Ukrainian war refugees have direct access to the German social system, which explains the recent sharp increase. However, the trend was already evident before the Russian attack on Ukraine, for example with Syrian refugees.

The BA numbers go back to an AfD request. It also shows that in the period from 2010 to 2022 the number of children and young people with a German passport who received the corresponding social benefits fell: from around 1.37 million in December 2010 to around 895,000 in December 2022. According to the BA, the value for March 2023 is 1.02 million.

Lindner raised the question of whether the best way to help affected children is to transfer money to parents. "Or isn't it at least worthy of discussion to invest in language support, integration, the employability of parents and to equip the day-care centers and schools for the children in such a way that they can perhaps catch up on what the parents can't do?" It is precisely this debate that the traffic light government will lead, Lindner announced.

The left calls for more money for basic child security

The left demands from the traffic light coalition an end to the dispute over basic child security and more money for the planned social benefit. With the now considered 3.5 billion euros, child poverty in Germany cannot be combated, said party leader Janine Wissler. Around 2.8 million children are affected or at risk.

Child poverty is also not imported, as Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner suggests, Wissler added. "But child poverty is a structural problem." Single parents are particularly affected, regardless of nationality. Reasons are low wages, part-time work and low social benefits, said the left-wing politician.

VdK President Bentele explained that educational policy is not a substitute for social policy. "If you promote one, you don't have to forego the other." She warned: "Poor children who do not receive good support today are more likely to remain poor and later often depend on welfare and pay less tax."

The labor and social policy spokesman for the AfD parliamentary group, René Springer, saw himself confirmed by Lindner's statements. Lindner is now saying "the obvious": "Migration brings poverty to Germany and in no way secures our prosperity." But he draws the wrong conclusion that a restrictive immigration policy is necessary.

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