Citizens are happy that politicians are acting. But decisions must also be able to be implemented by the administrations. With the housing benefit reform, the municipalities are expecting extreme delays in payments due to a lack of employees.
From the point of view of the municipalities, the housing benefit for significantly more entitled persons can only be paid out with a delay of months. The main reason is the lack of staff in the responsible authorities. “It already takes three to six months to process an application for housing benefit,” said Gerd Landsberg, general manager of the German Association of Towns and Municipalities, the “Bild”. “This will expand significantly.” In addition to the conversion of the software to new parameters, there is also a wave of new applications coming to the municipalities. “We don’t have the people to work them off quickly.” The cities would have advertised the positions, but could not fill them.
North Rhine-Westphalia’s Building Minister Ina Scharrenbach (CDU) also expects massive delays and problems with implementation. “Right from the start, the federal government had the goal of pushing through the housing benefit reform with all its might. She will get a black eye herself,” said Scharrenbach of the German Press Agency. There is a lack of staff to process the applications, and new employees can only be trained from mid-December.
“We assume that under the new law, housing benefit applications can only be approved from April 2023 and then retrospectively,” said the NRW Minister. A rush to the housing benefit offices is already noticeable. Hardly any country has taken precautions for possible advance payments. In addition, they would require duplication of work for the administrations.
The Federal Council approved the reform on Friday. According to this, next year, in addition to the 600,000 households nationwide, up to 1.4 million more could be entitled to a state subsidy for rent. Households that do not receive social benefits but still have little money can apply for housing benefit.