The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs cannot conclusively justify this decision when asked by WELT: Families should soon receive more child benefits - according to the coalition decision, but only for the first and second child. The signal that the federal government is not leaving low-income families and children alone in this difficult situation is important, the ministry said.
The exact implementation of the relief measures that have been decided and the increase in child benefit are now “discussed in the further course of the process”. What does Elisabeth Müller, head of the Association of Large Families Germany, say about this?
WORLD: Ms. Müller, on Sunday the coalition committee decided on the third relief package. This also includes 18 euros more child benefit – but only for the first and second child. Why not also for third, fourth and fifth children?
Elisabeth Müller: This announcement triggers great astonishment and even greater incomprehension among families with many children. We would also be interested in the reason why the government decided on this clear unequal treatment.
WORLD: In this country, people are considered to have many children if they have three or more children. But of the 11.6 million families in Germany, just 1.1 million have three children and 0.3 million have four or more children. Don't these families have a lobby?
Müller: Our association came into being almost twelve years ago precisely because of this lack of representation of interests. We have noticed that families with three or more children in the household are often not considered. Apparently, many in politics still fail to understand that larger families have different needs and challenges. And, above all, other cost structures: more people simply live off a single household budget.
WORLD: Currently you get 219 euros for the first two children, 225 euros for the third and 250 euros for all other children. This staggering is now practically ad absurdum...
Mueller: Indeed. It is absolutely incomprehensible to us that these rates are only adjusted for inflation for the first and second children. Families with many children have been hit particularly hard by the dramatically rising cost of living, for example by the explosion in food and energy costs. They don't suddenly stop with the third child! So far, the child benefit has covered at most 33 to 40 percent of the need, in large cities with high housing costs not even that.
WORLD: Do you have a guess as to why the traffic light gives preference to smaller families?
Müller: We can't understand why politicians don't have families with large children on their radar. It is clear that families with many children differ from smaller families in many ways: the need for living space, money and participation in public life and infrastructure is different. Families with many children also differ from the two-child norm when it comes to questions of time and employment.
However, it is also clear that these families do a great deal for society. In many aspects, they use resources in an exemplary, sustainable and economical manner! We don't understand why parents who consciously choose a life model with many children are neglected. We are not asked about important decisions, such as living space or child benefit.
WORLD: Large families suffer particularly from rising energy and food prices. What kind of feedback do you get here?
Müller: It's not just pure energy and food prices. Everything is simply getting more expensive: groceries, hygiene products, housing costs, additional costs, waste disposal fees, communal catering in day-care centers and schools, made-up excursions and school trips, school supplies, student subscriptions, mobility costs.
Especially with many children, an incredible amount of food goes over the table. For example, what is 1.5 kg of pasta for four to five young eaters at home? The cheapest noodles alone have multiplied in price.
However, one of the biggest items is in fact the dramatic energy prices. For example with natural gas. Families have reported back to us that they suddenly have to pay 550 instead of 75 euros for gas per month. That's a force. Where are families supposed to get the money from?
WORLD: Does the energy crisis throw families into real existential fears?
Müller: More and more middle-class families with many children and relatively good incomes are contacting our advice hotline and are very concerned about the future. Families who have not received any supplementary social benefits and are therefore excluded from the education and participation package are now threatened in their existence.
For a long time now, it has no longer been a question of which areas could be saved and how. It's down to the nitty gritty. The parents concerned are wondering how they are going to pay their bills. Everything is getting more expensive, only the salary remains the same.
"It's not pretty, but it's the best thing you could do," says WELT energy expert Daniel Wetzel on the electricity price brake. “Deep market interventions were discussed. It's good that the federal government didn't do that.” Germany will need every gigawatt hour in the next few years.
WORLD: Especially since parents with several children can often only work part-time. Are extended families also systematically disadvantaged?
Müller: In families with many children, there is often only one to one and a half salaries available due to the increased care work. There is no compensation for this after the very limited months of parental leave! Many children are usually completely overlooked when it comes to pricing in the culture and leisure sector. A family ticket is then often valid for two adults and two children, all other children then have to buy a single ticket. A trip to the swimming pool or museum can easily become very expensive.
We are therefore committed to a "real" family ticket that takes all children into account in the admission price. That already exists in Thuringia. It would be our wish to broadcast this project nationwide and it would at least relieve the burden on families with large children in this area.
WORLD: How do you explain the lack of appreciation?
Müller: It's just shocking how the current misery of the families is overlooked. Our children are our future. Family-friendliness is not only a political task, but above all a task for society as a whole. But without powerful political support it will not work.
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