The more than five million recipients of citizen benefits are to receive noticeably higher benefits in the coming year. From the beginning of 2024, single people should receive 563 euros per month instead of 502 euros today. “This is a significant step,” said Federal Minister of Social Affairs Hubertus Heil (SPD) in Berlin. Overall, this is an increase of a good twelve percent. According to Heil, the increase will have an impact on the federal budget of 4.3 billion euros.

With the citizen income reform that came into force at the beginning of the year, the rates are being adjusted to inflation more quickly than in the past, as Heil said. “Especially in times of crisis and in times of crisis and upheaval, you have to be able to rely on the welfare state.”

Adults living with partners should in future receive 506 euros instead of the previous 451 euros. In the future, young people from the age of 15 to under 18 will receive 471 instead of 420 euros. For children from the beginning of the seventh to the end of the 14th year, 390 instead of 348 euros are paid. For children up to the age of six, 357 instead of 318 euros should flow. Heil announced that the corresponding regulation by the Ministry of Social Affairs could probably be discussed in the Federal Cabinet on September 14th.

“A Good Sign”

5.5 million people in need are currently receiving citizenship benefits, including 1.68 million unemployed. In January, the basic income had replaced Hartz IV in its earlier form as the central social reform of the traffic light government. The standard rates had already risen by around 50 euros at the beginning of the year.

The Social Association Germany (SoVD) called the standard rate adjustment “a good signal”, as the association’s chairwoman Michaela Engelmeier told the German Press Agency in Berlin. She pointed out that the increase will also help hundreds of thousands more people. Because the rates for basic security in old age and for reduced earning capacity also increase accordingly.

Also critical voices

Union faction vice Jens Spahn criticized the planned increase. “Those who work must have more than those who don’t work,” said the CDU politician to “Bild”. “If the citizens’ income now rises faster than the wages of many millions of employees, that sends the wrong signal.” He also called for tougher penalties if the unemployed do not take advantage of measures or job offers.

“When recipients of citizenship benefits who are able to work repeatedly refuse offered work or qualifications, the financial consequences are more noticeable than today. Anyone who can work should work. We must realign our social systems more strongly according to this simple principle,” he said.

The joint general association meanwhile criticized the increase as “much too low”. In order to effectively protect against poverty, the standard rate must be 813 euros, as Managing Director Ulrich Schneider emphasized. The president of the social association VdK, Verena Bentele, criticized the increase as too late, since the high prices had already put those affected in existential need. SoVD boss Engelmeier said that politicians should not lose sight of people with an income just above the basic security level. They suffered “extremely” from the price explosion.

In July, the inflation rate in Germany was 6.2 percent compared to the same month last year, and in June it was 6.4 percent.

After long negotiations

Citizens’ income was introduced after months of negotiations in the traffic light coalition. A twelve-month waiting period has been in effect since the beginning of the year: During this waiting period, the previous costs of the apartment will be covered and assets will only be taken into account if they exceed certain thresholds. In the meantime, tax exemptions for employed persons have also been improved. The main goals of the reform of citizen income are to strengthen the individual care of those affected in the job center – and more training and qualification for jobs.

In the previous Hartz IV system, the basic security had only increased by meager amounts over many years. In 2022, for example, there was an increase of three to 449 euros for single adults – the German children’s charity, for example, criticized this as “miserable” at the time. In 2021 the plus was 14 euros and in the years before that it was eight euros twice.

Heil emphasized that the higher standard rates also formed a ceiling for the calculation of the planned basic child security. The Greens parliamentary group Vice President Andreas Audretsch told the dpa: “Our reform of the basic income means that the standard rates are now increasing more, and that will also be included in the basic child security.”