The citizen money replaces Hartz IV. With this, the state says goodbye to the principle of demanding and promoting. He spends the money of the citizens who are industrious and pay their taxes – for the good of those who cannot work and for the benefit of those who do not want to work.
The citizen money replaces Hartz IV. January 1, 2023, if all goes according to plan. That sounds like two decades ago, when Mars renamed its Raider candy bar Twix. But the comparison is flawed. Citizens’ income is closer to the unconditional basic income than Hartz IV.
It does, however, stick with the Raider Twix example, contain a lot more sugar under the new label. The question arises as to whether the citizen’s income cannot be an incentive to be lazy.
From the recipient’s point of view, citizen’s income offers many advantages. First of all, benefits will be increased by 12 percent. A single person will soon receive 502 (449) euros a month, a couple 954 (853) euros. For a family with two children, up to 768 (687) euros are additionally due, depending on their age. Makes a total of 1722 euros.
In addition, the job center pays the entire rent including ancillary costs plus the costs for heating. In big cities with high rents, that quickly adds up to another 1,000 euros.
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In view of the inflation rate, these increases would have come even if the Hartz IV rules had not changed. A big advantage for the recipient, however, is the expansion of the protective assets, i.e. their own reserves, which do not have to be touched when drawing the citizens’ benefit.
This allowance will be increased for an adult from currently around 10,000 to 60,000 euros. A family with two children can have 150,000 euros on the high edge and at the same time receive transfer payments. This applies to the first two years.
Such high reserves are certainly not the rule for transfer money recipients. But one should not overlook the clans with a migration background, whose members often drive up to the job center in luxury cars. Speaking of cars: one vehicle per employable person is allowed without the office paying less.
The citizen money replaces Hartz IV. A decision that gives many economists stomach ache. Because people with low incomes are hardly better off than those who do not work at all.
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The state is also much more generous when it comes to housing. Previously, Hartz IV recipients had to move if their apartment was too big and too expensive. From January onwards, recipients of state benefits may remain in their traditional four walls. The rent, heating and ancillary costs are borne by the office or the taxpayers. Only after two years could a move to a cheaper apartment threaten.
Another important innovation: Anyone who refuses to accept a job offered by the job center or to undergo further training does not have to accept any cuts in cash benefits in the first six months. In fact, sanctions can only be imposed after nine months. So if you want, you can take a break for more than half a year at the expense of the general public.
In the past, the so-called mediation priority applied. Anyone who had a job offer had to accept it, even if they were overqualified for it. Under the basic income rules, unemployed people who do not want to accept jobs that are offered can rely on further training. Anyone who goes through further training is rewarded by the state with 150 euros per month.
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So the state does not expect that an unemployed person will want to qualify of their own accord in order to find a job again. Rather, he pays a premium if someone does not want to remain unemployed in the long term because of their insufficient qualifications.
With this reform, Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) and the traffic light are apparently assuming that good citizens are concerned about taking care of themselves and only claim state aid if there is no other option. But not all people are “noble, helpful and good”.
On the contrary, quite a few tend to sneak in or “take” state benefits. The counselors in the job centers can tell you a thing or two about how some Hartz IV recipients refuse to take a job, refuse appointments under flimsy pretexts and use all conceivable tricks to get hold of additional benefits.
Employers and many economists are therefore skeptical or even hostile to the new citizens’ income. They see the temporary waiver of sanctions as an invitation to make themselves comfortable in the social system, at least in the first nine months of receiving citizen benefits.
Opponents of sanctions object that only three to four percent of Hartz IV recipients have been sanctioned in the past; 97 percent of those affected are honest. However, no one knows how “honest” the vast majority would be if they could not be penalized with benefit cuts when cheating and cheating.
Something else is even more risky than the suspension of sanctions: the basic income reduces the already small gap between the income of low earners and the income of benefit recipients.
The basic security increases by 12 percent on January 1st. Employees can only dream of such increases. For a family man who earns maybe 2000 or 2300 euros a month, the citizen’s income can be a real financial alternative to the 38 or 40 hour week – in these times because of the 100% assumption of heating costs.
Undoubtedly, there are many Hartz IV recipients who are unable to do regular work for health reasons. Even single parents whose children cannot find a daycare place find it difficult to reconcile work and family life. In the past, however, there was a striking discrepancy between vacancies for the unskilled and the 3.8 million employable Hartz IV recipients.
Apparently, many unemployed have settled into a system of “support plus some undeclared work”. It’s grotesque that the government in Turkey tried (in vain) to recruit porters because long-term unemployed people living in Germany apparently avoid this job. It is also incomprehensible that we “import” harvest helpers from abroad year after year.
Many transfer money recipients have not thought of making themselves available to the labor market. Under the citizen money conditions, they will do it even less. Anyone who does not believe this should try to find help for the house or garden who is willing to properly tax this income. Or someone who shovels snow at 6 a.m. in winter. He will have little luck in big cities.
Easier access to basic income will tend to exacerbate these contradictions. Of course, there are many people who receive basic security who would be willing to take on a job. But you also have to be very sober and see that higher social benefits do not necessarily increase the incentive to work 38 or 40 hours a week.
As a rule, working people have more income at their disposal than recipients of state support. However, the smaller the difference between income from work and income from unemployment, the smaller the incentive to work full-time and the greater the temptation to settle down with basic income – without regular work.
The basic security in the previous form of course does not allow lazing around in the lap of luxury. But it’s not so low that people would do anything just to get a job.
Citizens’ income makes it easier for those who would rather settle for little than try their best. After all, citizen’s income is nothing more than a precursor to an unconditional basic income, which the SPD and the Greens are striving for anyway.
According to the concept of an unconditional basic income, the state provides for all citizens in such a way that they can freely decide whether to work or not. Because citizen income corresponds to a “basic income light” for a limited time. It breaks with the old principle of “demanding and promoting”. Much more is now being funded than is required.
Workers with low incomes are also challenged, who have to accept that their advantage over the non-employed is shrinking. Last but not least, taxpayers and contributors are required. The state cannot distribute anything that it has not previously taken from the citizens.
Seen in this light, citizens’ income is not such a misnomer: the money of citizens who are diligent and pay their taxes is spent – for the benefit of those who cannot work and for the benefit of those who do not want to work.