With the introduction of citizen's income, millions of people in need will receive significantly higher payments as of January 1st. After the Bundestag, the Bundesrat also approved the social reform.
The traffic light coalition has thus completed its central socio-political reform after weeks of wrangling and a mediation process. In the state chamber, Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil (SPD) said: "We are creating a new system away from Hartz IV to citizen income." It's about protection and opportunity. The promise of the welfare state is renewed.
In view of the high inflation, the basic security benefits will increase by more than 50 euros in 2023. Single people will receive 502 euros per month in the future. Significant parts of the reform will come into force on July 1st. The job centers should then be able to take greater care of the unemployed. The placement in permanent work instead of simple helper jobs should be better than before. To this end, those affected should be given further qualifications to a greater extent or begin training or retraining. In addition, recipients of basic security will be able to do more in future
Union had rejected original traffic light plans
The resolutions were preceded by a mediation process between the Bundestag and Bundesrat. The Union had rejected the original plans of the SPD, Greens and FDP. The CDU and CSU complained that the unemployed were not encouraged enough to participate. The Union no longer saw the balance between funding and demanding. In the Federal Council, the citizen's income therefore initially fell through.
In a dig at the Union, Heil now turned against the "general suspicion" that the long-term unemployed are too lazy to work. In the final debate in the Bundestag, FDP Vice Johannes Vogel had previously emphasized: "Promoting and demanding also applies to citizen income." Green parliamentary group leader Britta Haßelmann said: "The method of populism had no place in the mediation committee." She wondered if it was because CDU leader Friedrich Merz and CSU leader Markus Söder weren't there.
The AfD deputy Götz Frömming rated the citizen money as "false labeling". Gesine Lötzsch from the left said: "The citizen money is not an overcoming of Hartz IV, it's just a deceptive maneuver." In the Bundesrat, Thuringia's Minister for Federal Affairs, Benjamin-Immanuel Hoff (left), justified his state's approval by saying that the higher standard rates are necessary immediate measures.
Hesse's Prime Minister Boris Rhein (CDU) assured that the Union's actions had nothing to do with the blockade. A good compromise has been achieved. Saxony-Anhalt's Prime Minister Reiner Haseloff (CDU) emphasized "that we need new approaches". Compared to before, there are more unqualified people and people with a migration background who need perspectives. "A third of unemployed people have not completed their training," said Rhineland-Palatinate Prime Minister Malu Dreyer (SPD).
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania's Prime Minister Manuela Schwesig (SPD) said with a view to the Union that the debate had been "poisoned". It was suggested that work in Germany was no longer worthwhile.
Possible sanctions for breaches of duty
Under pressure from the CDU and CSU, the possible sanctions for breaches of duty were tightened, contrary to Heil's original draft. As early as January, such reductions in citizen income are staggered and can amount to a maximum of 30 percent if, contrary to the agreements, the unemployed do not apply for a job or take part in a training measure, for example. Those affected may also keep a little less money they have saved than initially planned. This so-called protective assets will amount to 40,000 euros in a "waiting period" of one year.
In the Bundestag, 557 MPs voted for the changes that the Mediation Committee of the Bundestag and Bundestag had approved. An informal round of the traffic light coalition and the Union had negotiated the compromise. The AfD therefore criticized the procedure as unconstitutional. Finally, the citizens' income received a "very large majority" in the Bundesrat, as the Bundesrat President, Hamburg's First Mayor Peter Tschentscher (SPD), stated. Bavaria had abstained.