Shortly before Christmas, many civil servants with children in Germany can look forward to a lavish back payment. As the “Rheinische Post” reports, according to the Ministry of Finance, North Rhine-Westphalia wants to increase the so-called family allowances from December 1, 2022. The reason for this is the increased rental costs in many cities in the country. Other states also want to follow suit.

The background to this is a judgment by the Federal Constitutional Court from 2020. At that time, an official complained about the insufficient increase in the family allowance and the simultaneous increase in rental costs. The Karlsruhe judges ruled that the state must always provide sufficient support for its civil servants. According to the principle, higher housing costs should lead to higher child supplements.

When it comes to the amount of the surcharges, NRW is based on the Housing Allowance Ordinance, in which the federal territory was divided into seven zones based on the local rents. Officials with children in expensive cities such as Cologne or Düsseldorf (level 6) therefore receive 4549.16 euros for one child – with two children it is already 10,170.93 euros.

The sum is so high because the additional payments apply retrospectively from January 2022. Then there is 1/11 of the amount more on the basic salary per month.

Officials with children receive the surcharges in addition to child benefit and regardless of whether they live in rented accommodation or in their own home that has already been paid for. This is covered by the Federal Constitutional Court. The state must pay civil servants so high that a comparable standard of living is possible regardless of where they live. Civil servants without children will only receive a 2.8 percent increase in their basic salary from December 1st.

The NRW Ministry of Finance defended the approach to the “Rheinische Post”. Not all officials are wealthy. “The majority of state officials are police officers, judicial officers (prisons), tax office employees.”

As “Bild” reports, most federal states want to follow suit quickly when it comes to family allowances. Baden-Württemberg wants to compensate its officials retrospectively for three years, up to 7200 euros are possible depending on where you live and the number of children. Berlin wants to increase the salary from December 1, 2022 – but there should not be an additional payment here.

The renowned poverty researcher and politics professor Christoph Butterwegge will soon also receive a higher family allowance from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. He calls for more justice in the distribution: “If the state already grants officials with children according to the alimony principle in places with high housing costs, it should also apply this principle to other families,” he told the “Rheinische Post”. “Then there would be more money for child benefit or basic child security if the family lives in a place with high housing costs.”

It is correct: Hairdressers or supermarket cashiers also have to pay for the official surcharges with their tax revenue. The taxpayers’ association is therefore outraged.

Markus Berkenkopf, expert for the state budget of North Rhine-Westphalia, says to “Bild”: “The increase is incomprehensible. The impression is created that wage decisions are particularly positive when the decision-makers themselves are affected.” Because judges are also civil servants and also receive a higher family allowance.