The Bundestag votes this Thursday on the planned citizens' allowance. The SPD, Greens and FDP are expected to pass the law with their majority - against resistance from the opposition.
The Union, on whose approval the traffic light is later dependent in the Bundesrat for a final adoption of the citizens' allowance, has repeatedly criticized the planned change away from the previous Hartz IV system in recent weeks and is threatening a blockade in the state chamber.
From the point of view of the CDU and CSU, the citizen's income reduces the motivation to accept a job and creates "incentives to immigrate to our social system," as CSU regional group leader Alexander Dobrindt said recently. The AfD argues similarly: The incentives to "lie in the hammock" are increasing, said the first parliamentary manager of the parliamentary group, Bernd Baumann. The Left Party and social organizations, on the other hand, criticize citizen income as too low. These are the plans of the traffic light:
The current Hartz IV standard rate of 449 euros for single people is to be raised to 502 euros. That it has to be at least that much is undisputed because of the sharp increase in the cost of living. The CDU and CSU had proposed removing the increase from the Citizens Income Act so that the increase could be implemented on January 1st. The rest of the law can then be discussed later. The traffic light coalition rejects this.
System change away from Hartz IV
The core of the reform is a system change: 20 years ago, the then Chancellor Gerard Schröder (SPD) set up a commission headed by ex-VW manager Peter Hartz. Several laws emerged from their proposals for labor market and social reforms against the mass unemployment of the time: "Hartz I" to "Hartz IV". The pressure on the unemployed increased, which led to protests and to the fact that the Social Democrats also came under increasing pressure. Schröder lost the federal elections in 2005 and the Left Party established itself alongside the SPD. Now Hartz IV should go.
In the current podcast of the SPD parliamentary group, Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) calls the fact that the SPD now needs the basic income to "cope with trauma", as it is called in the Union, "nonsense". "Back then we had mass unemployment, today we're talking about a shortage of workers." That's why a fundamental reform with "reduction of bureaucracy, empowerment, qualification and reliable protection" is needed.
According to the plans, the unemployed are to be put under less pressure in the future by threatened withdrawal of benefits (sanctions) and instead be given more support with further training measures. In addition, the requirements for the permitted amount of assets and the size of the apartment for benefit recipients are to be relaxed.
"Trust period" and "waiting period"
Two of the buzzwords in the citizen money law. The traffic light says they don't want to put anyone under general suspicion. For this reason, benefits should only be reduced in the first six months of receiving citizenship benefit ("trust period") in exceptional cases if someone persistently does not cooperate with the job center. In addition, nobody should have to touch their assets for the first two years ("waiting period"), unless it is "considerable" and is more than 60,000 euros, plus 30,000 euros for each additional household member. It should also not be necessary to move to a smaller apartment during the waiting period.
Even after two years of receiving basic income, more assets than before should remain untouched. This also applies to systems for old-age provision or homes up to 140 square meters and condominiums up to 130 square meters. It's not about big villas in Ticino, says Heil. "It's about the question that people who have worked for something in life don't have to hit everything on the head when they get into trouble." Those affected should "have a clear head to qualify and further educate themselves, to look for new work and should not have to grapple with using up assets or moving out of the apartment they previously lived in," said SPD General Secretary Kevin Kühnert recently on Deutschlandfunk.
In addition to the citizen's income, there should be 150 euros per month for further training if someone catches up on a vocational qualification or an additional 75 euros if other further training measures are accepted. The traffic light wants to abolish the so-called priority of mediation. In the future, the goal should no longer be to place those affected in any job as quickly as possible, but to prepare them for permanent employment through further training. The lack of skilled workers is also argued here. The FDP in the traffic light attaches particular importance to the further training part of the law, which also had its stomach ache with some other parts of the citizen’s income, as the coalition’s internal consultations in the summer had shown.