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The future of ALG II : The height of the Hartz IV-remuneration is not the Problem - the sanctions

Since Tuesday of this week, the Federal constitutional court one of the most controversial reforms of the German welfare state: Are the sanctions in the Hartz IV System unconstitutional? In the public debate, the sanctions are literally for the dismantling of the welfare state and the loss of social democratic credibility. It is therefore understandable that the Comrades, just like the greens and the Left, now made to have a Reform of the reforms with high pressure.

Currently, in the case of rejection of services offered be reduced by one third. In the extreme case, the complete deletion is even threatening. For many Hartz critics of the sanctions are therefore the epitome of harassment and intimidation. They demand the abolition of all sanctions.

there are quite good reasons for this: Even the internal research Institute of the Federal employment Agency has recently stated that sanctions have sometimes rather a complete withdrawal from the labour market. And international studies show that sanctions increase the risk in crime, to slide, to be homeless or mentally ill – not to mention unacceptable attacks on the Dignity of many a power earner. Of particular concern: people with low qualifications are particularly often affected.

Nevertheless, it is wrong to focus on the current debate on Hartz IV sanctions. Because the are not the biggest Problem.

Other EU countries, penalties are much harder

According to the Federal Agency for work were imposed in 2017, around one Million sanctions, about 80 percent of them due to minor reporting failures. The size of the number only three per cent of all working-age benefit recipients are, however, affected belies the fact that in order for sanctions. Thus, the ratio Essentially corresponds to the European Standard.

Some countries with particularly high benefits sanction even far more common: In Denmark and the Netherlands, for instance, are annually cut between ten and 20 per cent of the persons receiving services. Also in your scope of the sanctions in Germany are by far the most stringent: In almost all European countries, benefits can be revoked on the first offense, and completely.

In international comparison the German Hartz sanctions are neither striking hard nor very often. Problematic is the low level of benefits is rather. Because they move in a European comparison, is at best at average levels. Thus, the unemployment benefit II replaces only up to 40 percent of the German media salary. But it is in fact below the poverty line. In Europe, there is a whole range of countries that make it significantly better. Above all, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands, the pay off, after all, a performance in the amount of 40 percent to 50 percent of the median wage.

the German economy in the wrong place but has a concrete impact. Because the number of people who are at risk in Germany, despite the social benefits, yet poverty, according to Eurostat, at around 16 percent. In the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands, this rate is much lower.

it is Frightening that about two million children in Germany live by the basic security and consequently poverty. An increase in the rule sets or the introduction of a key issue, and would therefore help far more people than a abolition of the sanctions.

Only a minority finds: Hartz IV is not enough money

a large part of the population sees the sanctions as the biggest Problem. Although in a survey of 2018, a clear majority for a fundamental Hartz Reform in favour, finds no majority for the abolition of the sanctions. On the contrary, A Civey survey from December 2018, shows that only a third of German power cuts feels for breaches of duty as a wrong. Especially is this more evident than in the Under-25-Year-olds: a majority of calls for even tougher sanctions.

At the same time, but – and this is crucial – however, only a minority of the amount of donations is sufficient. And more than 70 percent of people wish for a General increase of the standard rates for children.

All of this is not to say that the sanctions for Hartz IV recipients are to remain as they are. On the contrary, The current System is unfair and has too many side effects, especially the most Vulnerable. Therefore, we need a Reform. The sanctions should, however, not be the focus of a larger debate on Hartz IV. Their abolition would only help a few people and found hardly a majority in the population. In the worst case, well-intentioned reforms could jeopardise here, therefore, even the acceptance of a fundamental "Hartz" - reforms.

Instead, we should deal with the actual Problem: With the low benefits for the Affected, above all, for children. It is therefore right that the Federal government is increasing with the "Strong-family"law, and the financial assistance available for families. Also the SPD has chosen to want to be a key issue, introduce, is a major step in the right direction. The children's basic security would not only improve the lives of many people immediately, but would be a broad political majority.

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"Strong families act" in The fight against child poverty and the bureaucracy

Felix Hackenbruch Patrick

The author Reichelt is a speaker for the international policy analysis at Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.

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