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COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch

Database of national-level responses

Eurofound's COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the crisis, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for case DE-2020-31/1692 – measures in Germany

Child benefit top up

Kinderzuschlag zum Kindergeld (BMFSFJ)

Country Germany , applies nationwide
Time period Temporary, 29 July 2020 – 31 March 2021
Type Legislations or other statutory regulations
Category Measures to prevent social hardship
– Protection of vulnerable groups (beyond employment support)
Author Birgit Kraemer (Hans Boeckler Foundation) and Eurofound
Case created 10 January 2021 (updated 29 January 2021)

Background information

Germany's pandemic response, including lock-downs, social distancing measures, occupational bans and business confinements, has disproportionally affected low-income households (Hövermann 2020). With over 10 million employees working under Germany's short-time work scheme ( Kurzarbeit ) already back in May 2020, income top-ups such as child benefits, housing benefits or unemployment benefits have increased in importance (Focus online 2020). To improve the situation of low-income households, the government has eased access to the child benefit top up ( Kinderzuschlag ) in Summer 2020 and increased the top-up from January 2021. This is an additional social benefit on top of the regular child benefit ( Kindergeld ).

Content of measure

Families eligible for child benefits can apply for a top-up. The measure includes easier access to the top up and an increase of the top up from January 2021. Eligibility depends on various factors such as household income, housing cost, family size and the age of the children living in the household.

The Government eased access to the top-up in Summer 2020 by increasing the savings threshold ( Zweites Familienentlastungsgetz , July 2020). Low-income families can apply for a monthly top-up to their child benefits of up to €185 per child. In October 2020, the government decided to increase the amount to a maximum of €205 per child from 1 January 2021.

Use of measure

A growing number of households make use of the measure. As of January, 2020, the number of children covered by the measure was 299,168 children. By the end of October of the same year, the number had increased to 888,398 children (Jugendhilfeportal, 2020).

The policy impact has to be evaluated in interdependence with other social benefit schemes. The child-benefit top up is one of over one hundred different grants or tax deductions provided for families in Germany. The benefits bureaucracy has increased in the course of the economic and social crisis that is accompanying the pandemic in Germany (ZDF, 2020). The broad variety of measures means that families face the risk of benefit repayment. Successful application for some measures disables eligibility for others (see Focus online, 2020). The measures decrease financial hardship in low-income household, but potentially increases the risk of household debt.

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Does not apply to workers Does not apply to businesses Parents

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
National funds

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role No involvement No involvement
Form Not applicable Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • No involvement
  • Main level of involvement: N/A

Involvement

Social partners are usually consulted by the Federal Government when drafting national laws or other major regulations concerning the labour market. No formal tripartite social dialogue structure exists to design pandemic control measures. Germany's pandemic response is based on government by decrees, without parliamentary participation.

Views and reactions

Public statements by social partners have informally influenced the design of BMFSFJ policy measure related to the government's pandemic response.

Sources

Citation

Eurofound (2021), Child benefit top up, case DE-2020-31/1692 (measures in Germany), COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch, Dublin, http://eurofound.link/covid19eupolicywatch

Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process. All information is preliminary and subject to change.