Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the COVID-19 crisis, the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.
Factsheet for measure DE-2023-1/2883 – Updated – measures in Germany
|Country||Germany , applies nationwide|
|Time period||Open ended, started on 01 January 2023|
|Context||War in Ukraine|
|Type||Legislations or other statutory regulations|
Income protection beyond short-time work
– Extensions of income support to workers not covered by any kind of protection scheme
|Author||Merlin Manz (Hans Boeckler Foundation)|
|Measure added||14 September 2022 (updated 07 November 2023)|
With the war in Ukraine, energy and food prices have been significantly rising. The third relief package, which has a volume of around €65 billion, aims to reduce the burden on citizens caused by the increased energy prices and rising inflation. The citizen's benefit is part of third relief package. In force from 1 January 2023, it replaced the unemployment assistance II (Arbeitslosengeld II) - commonly known as HARTZ IV. The citizen's benefit is provided to ensure a minimum subsistence level worthy of a human being in accordance with Article 1, Paragraph 1 of the Basic Law and regulated by the Social Code (SGB) Book II.
Citizen's benefit is paid to people who are able to work and cannot cover their living expenses with their own income. It serves to ensure a decent minimum standard of living. When an application is submitted, the applicant's individual needs are first determined. This is primarily done by taking into account the persons daily living needs, the costs of accommodation and any additional needs. Any existing income and personal assets are balanced against these needs. However, time limits during which certain personal assets are taken into account by the job centres calculating the benefit were extended. Cost of rent will also be borne fully during the first 12 months. In addition, the time period during which citizen benefits can deny job offers made by the job centre was prolonged.
Apart from the mentioned changes, the regular benefit was also increased as of 1 January 2023. The standard rates per month vary according to the living situation of the targeted person:
Finally, the new benefit requires recipient's participation in training courses and also offer coaching sessions in order to support their integration into the labour market.
As of February 2023, around 5.4 million people were receiving benefits under SGB II. According to figures from the Federal Employment Agency of September 2023, around 5.5 million people were receiving benefits under SGB II. The latest data can be found on the statistics page of the [Federal Employment Agency](https://statistik.arbeitsagentur.de/DE/Navigation/Statistiken/Fachstatistiken/Grundsicherung-fuer-Arbeitsuchende-SGBII/Aktuelle-Eckwerte-Nav.html]. It is estimated that the new benefit will result in an annual additional expenditure of around €5 billion. The largest share of this is covered by the federal government (about €4.5 billion). The remaining additional expenditure is distributed among the states (Länder) and municipalities, as well as the Federal Employment Agency.
|Does not apply to workers||Does not apply to businesses||
People on social benefits
People on low incomes
Local / regional government
Public employment service
Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:
|Trade unions||Employers' organisations|
|Form||Direct consultation outside a formal body||Direct consultation outside a formal body|
Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:
Social partners participated with other interested groups in an oral hearing of the competent committee of the national parliament (Bundestag).
The German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) supported the plans for the new citizen's benefit and pointed out that the funds in the 2023 budget would, however, have to be significantly increased. Moreover, according to the DGB, the gap between wages and the citizen's benefit recipients is preserved.
The Confederation of German Employers' Associations (BDA) takes a different view, however, saying that it is no longer worthwhile to work one's way up. In addition, employers fear that the job centres will not be able to implement the new scheme swiftly because the new requirements were too complicated.
Eurofound (2022), Introduction of a citizen's benefit , measure DE-2023-1/2883 (measures in Germany), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin, https://static.eurofound.europa.eu/covid19db/cases/DE-2023-1_2883.html
30 January 2023
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