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

Child benefit top-up

Kinderzuschlag zum Kindergeld (BMFSFJ)

Country Germany , applies nationwide
Time period Temporary, 29 July 2020 – 31 December 2022
Context COVID-19
Type Legislations or other statutory regulations
Category Income protection beyond short-time work
– Support for parents and carers (financial or in kind)
Author Sandra Vogel (IW) and Eurofound
Measure added 10 January 2021 (updated 31 May 2022)

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.

Updates

The following updates to this measure have been made after it came into effect.

21 March 2022

Easier access to the child benefit top up was prolonged until 31 December 2022. Parents without significant assets do not have to provide any information on their financial situation to receive the benefit.

01 January 2022

From 1 January 2022, the maximum amount of the child benefit rose from €205 per child in 2021 to €209 per child.

30 December 2021

As the COVID-19 pandemic continued to burden families, the Federal Government prolonged to grant period for the child benefit top up until the end of March 2022.

10 March 2021

The Third Corona Tax Support Law of 10 March 2021 extended the measure. Households receive a top-up of €150 for every child eligible for child benefits in 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.

While the number of recipients for child benefit rose only slightly from 9,507,000 in 2019 to 9,730,000 in 2020, the volume of expenses for the programme rose from approximately €39 billion in 2019 to €46 billion in 2020. The increase is correlated to COVID-19 related measures in this area.

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Does not apply to workers Does not apply to businesses Children (minors)
Parents
People on low incomes

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, measure DE-2020-31/1692 (measures in Germany), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin, https://static.eurofound.europa.eu/covid19db/cases/DE-2020-31_1692.html

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