Low-income families can receive child benefit in addition to child benefit - up to 250 euros per child. However, according to estimates by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, the benefit only reaches about every third eligible child. Accordingly, arithmetically, about 1.5 million children go away empty-handed.
"Parents who just barely make ends meet are missing out on money to which they are entitled," said Family Minister Lisa Paus (Greens) of the German Press Agency on Tuesday. She referred to the planned basic child security, with which the traffic light coalition wants to remedy this situation.
Child supplement for 800,000 children
The left-wing faction in the Bundestag had asked the government about the current use of the child allowance. It is intended for families with low incomes, but who do not receive citizen income. From 600 euros gross for single parents and 900 euros for couples, the benefit can be applied for in addition to child benefit and amounts to a maximum of 250 euros per month per child - the higher the income, the less.
The response from the Ministry of Family Affairs, which is available to the dpa, states that almost 800,000 children were reached with the child supplement in December. The ministry estimates that that is around 35 percent of eligible children. According to the information, reliable figures are not available. "1.5 million children who are entitled to do so will get nothing and remain in hidden poverty," said Heidi Reichinnek, spokeswoman for children and young people for the left-wing faction. In a rich country like Germany, that's a scandal.
State as "service partner of families"
Why is that? In many cases, families do not know that there is a child supplement for them, said Minister for Family Affairs Paus. In Germany there are also various benefits for children, for which different bodies are responsible, so that it is not easy to keep track of them. That should change with the planned basic child security system. According to Paus, he would like to make the state a “service partner for families”.
The traffic light is currently working on the law for this. A draft law is planned for autumn, and basic child security could be introduced in 2025. The key points according to the previous plans of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs:
- The various state benefits for children, such as child benefit, child supplement, benefits for children receiving basic income, subsidies for music schools, sports clubs, school and leisure activities and tax allowances for children should be combined into one benefit and paid out unbureaucratically.
- An easy-to-use "child protection portal" is planned for this purpose. A "basic child security check" should also actively inform families that they may be entitled to further payments. The motto of the Ministry for Family Affairs is that the previous debt of citizens should become a debt of the state.
- Today's child benefit - 250 euros per month and child - is to become a "guaranteed amount" as part of the basic child security system. On top of that, an additional amount would be staggered, depending on the family's financial situation, so that children in poor families get the most. If the children are 18 years old and move out, the money should go directly to them and also serve as a "base" for financing studies and training.
- According to the ideas of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, which is led by the Greens, the amount of the "guaranteed amount" should "perspectively" correspond to "the maximum relief effect of the child tax allowance". According to the ministry, this is currently 354 euros per month. This is intended to counteract the effect that families with high incomes benefit more financially from these tax child allowances than low or normal earners who receive child benefit.
Traffic light discusses the cost
Such an adjustment to the tax allowances would be expensive. And the plan to reach more families with state benefits through the reform will also cost money. Within the traffic light coalition, the FDP is putting the brakes on spending. The state must become better, not more expensive. It's about finally debureaucratizing. Green parliamentary group leader Britta Haßelmann countered on Tuesday: "Basic child security is more than administrative reform and a digital portal. Real poverty prevention must be successful with it," she told the dpa. Child poverty cannot be managed away.