The traffic light factions have agreed on changes to the citizens’ income planned from January. They are reacting to harsh criticism from the Union. We explain what innovations these are – and how much citizen money you can get from 2023.

The traffic light is afraid of a blockage. That’s exactly what the Union threatened with regard to the draft of the new citizens’ income. The government factions acted now and agreed on several tightening.

“We reacted quickly to the demands of the Bundesrat and will make numerous changes in the Bundestag that also correspond to the wishes of the federal states,” said Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) of the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung”.

For example, there should be some tightening of the two-year waiting period for beneficiaries. As can be seen from a formulation aid available to the German Press Agency for the SPD, Greens and FDP parliamentary groups, changes are planned in the following points:

“The reimbursement of heating costs, for example, is checked for adequacy so that there are no false incentives. And the job centers have more opportunities to take action against abuse of benefits,” Heil summarized this change. This means that the traffic light meets the demands of the Union.

What is also new is that in future, in addition to declaring that they do not have significant assets, recipients of benefits will also have to enclose a self-assessment. This is also to prevent misuse of services. The Federal Employment Agency, which is to implement the reform in the shortest possible time, will also be given more generous transitional periods.

According to the plans of the federal government, the citizen’s income is to replace the previous basic security system Hartz IV on January 1st. The following rule sets should apply:

The compromise proposal is to be approved by the parliamentary groups on Tuesday. Next Thursday, the Bundestag wants to deal with the reform in the second and third reading. The governing parties defended their proposal:

The deputy FDP chairman, Johannes Vogel, said that the fact that recipients of citizen income payments will only be able to fully claim heating costs in future if they are reasonable is “a natural question of fairness”. The focus of the citizen income reform is on the goal “that efforts more worthwhile than before,” he said. Vogel described many public statements in connection with the reform, such as the impression that benefit recipients are now exempt from sanctions, as “fake news”.

His party colleague and parliamentary group spokesman for citizen money, Jens Teutrine, also defended the compromise. In particular, with the heating cost regulation, the traffic light factions stretched out a hand to the CDU-led countries, “which the Bundesrat should accept,” said Teutrine. The next meeting of the Federal Council is scheduled for November 25th.

Green parliamentary group vice-president Andreas Audretsch called on the Union to give up its blockade of the Citizens’ Income Act and to “stop making false statements”. With their current revision, the traffic light groups have “taken up factual points of criticism from the Union”. She also has a responsibility to ensure that the reform can come into force on January 1st. Anything else would mean “chaos” for the job center, said Audretsch.

However, the opposition’s reservations were not allayed even after the changed plans became known. The head of the SME and Economic Union, the CDU MP Connemann, said: “Our criticism remains: The citizens’ allowance is a departure from the principle of funding and demands.” The promised adjustments did not change the substance of the citizens’ allowance. The new traffic light draft provides for stricter rules for citizens’ allowance recipients. But: “These are not serious changes – these are cosmetic,” says Connemann. “There are still no serious incentives to go back to work. Money should still be paid, even if there is no willingness to perform.”

Finance Minister Lindner, on the other hand, emphasized in the “Welt am Sonntag”: “The citizen’s allowance rewards additional income and qualifications, refusal to participate is sanctioned. Hartz IV does not replace the citizen’s allowance with nonchalance, but with a more performance-oriented principle.”