Citizens’ money: those who refuse to work will face cuts

( – The German Association of Cities and Municipalities has put forward a proposal to make willingness to work a condition for the amount of citizen’s benefit that benefitiaries receive, inkluding Ukrainian refugees. This is the case in Denmark, Poland and the Netherlands. Germany must orient itself towards its neighboring countries, said the general manager of the municipal association, Berghegger. Offers would be made by the job centers. “Everyone who can accept reasonable work must also accept it.” Language and integration courses should be implemented for refugees and asylum seekers parallel to starting work, in consultation with potential employers, in order to increase the incentive to earn a living.

Small increase in the standard rate

Federal Minister of Labor, Heil (SPD), plans to cancel the standard rate for up to two months for those who refuse to work and to continue making rent payments only. So far, citizens’ allowance can be reduced by 30 percent. However, the main groups of people who have applied for citizen’s benefit will also have to keep their belts tightened. Heil stated that at the turn of the year “the adjustment would be very small,” when it comes to Citizens’ money, due to reduced inflation, according to a newspaper report. The exact figures will be announced by the Federal Statistical Office in summer. At the turn of the year 2023-2024, the standard rate significantly increased. Heil justified this with then prevalent price increases for food and electricity. He emphasized that obligations to cooperate and sanctions are provided for all recipients. 20 percent of those affected are already working and topping up their earned income. It is appropriate to ensure better wages in this segment, he concluded.

Greens against cuts in social spending, FDP for a zero round

For 2025, Federal Finance Minister Lindner (FDP) had previously announced that citizens’ money would be reduced to zero. Heil uttered criticism as to that stance: “No one should give the impression that the standard rate of citizens’ money is determed by rolling the dice.” Citizens’ money is being conceptualized in such a way that a minimum subsistence level, compatible with human dignity, is guaranteed. However, the adjustment to citizens’ money would be small. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Baerbock (Greens) said that savings should not be made at the wrong end. For example with a view on social spending and subsidies.

According to the Federal Government, 150,000 people are likely to be affected by a reduction or cancellation of citizens’ benefits due to an unwillingness to work. This, in turn, could lead to underspending of around 170,000 Euros per year, of which 150,000 million Euros are at federal level, according to unnamed information reported by the Bild newspaper. Two weeks ago, SPD chairman Klingbeil had advised his party to “concentrate on the working center.” The majority of people in no way understand that a small group of citizens’ benefit recipients have been refusing to cooperate, rejecting suggestions made by the job centers.

CDU wants to abolish citizens’ money and impose stronger sanctions

The CDU plans to abolish citizens’ money after a potential election victory. CDU General Secretary Linnemann would also like to significantly tighten the sanctions for those who refuse reasonable work. Not only cuts in social benefits should be envisaged, but also a reintroduction of the examination of assets. This should happen from the start – without the current waiting period of one year. “Nobody can be forced to work in Germany. But anyone who receives social benefits and is able to work can no longer assume that others who work hard, every day, will pay for it. In the future, social assistance will once again focus on those who really are in need,” Linnemann explained. On the other hand, the new regulation, as proposed by Heil, will “fizzle out completely,” Linnemann warned. The vice-chairman of the CDU parliamentary group, Spahn, has called for a constitutional change so that sanctions on citizens’ money can be implemented in a legally secure manner. Anyone who refuses to work after the job center has made an offer “cannot rely on being financed by others.” It was possible to implement this in a constitutionally valid way, without any problems, Spahn emphasized.

Parts of the SPD and the Greens, in turn, have expressed opposition to Heil’s plans to withdraw payment from citizens’ benefit recipients. The Federal Constitutional Court has set strict guidelines for reducing the subsistence minimum, such as the Green social politician Audretsch. The planned reduction is unacceptable, said SPD member of the Bundestag Malottki, on his part. Juso chairman Türmer said that a complete cancellation was not compatible with the basic idea of citizens’ money, apart from raising concerns regarding the constitutional validity.

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