Energy and food prices continue to rise with no end in sight. Social Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) is pushing ahead with concrete relief proposals – and reaping mixed reactions.

According to the will of Social Affairs Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD), German citizens with a gross income of up to 4,000 euros a month should receive “social climate money” in the future. The payment should be made once a year from 2023 if possible and compensate for rising energy prices, as Heil announced in the newspapers of the Funke media group (Saturday). In addition, Heil is planning higher standard rates for people with basic security. There could be up to 50 euros more per month for them in the course of the citizens’ allowance, which is also planned from the beginning of next year.

The leadership lies more with Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) and Climate Minister Robert Habeck (Greens). But Heil wanted to bring in the climate money from his responsibility as Minister of Social Affairs. The move is also a reaction to the past electoral defeats of the SPD in North Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein, the ARD capital city studio reported, citing SPD circles.

Heil’s climate money, however, causes discrepancies in the traffic light: Greens welcome the plans, the FDP reacted skeptically to negatively. The CDU/CSU reject the proposals outright.

FDP boss Lindner told the newspapers of the Funke media group that Heil’s initiative shows that the SPD had not forgotten the redistribution policy. “Since debt and tax increases are ruled out, I’m curious about the financing ideas.” A reform of the wage and income tax is much closer than new pots.

FDP parliamentary group leader Johannes Vogel opposed an income limit for climate money in the “Bild am Sonntag”: The income from the CO2 price would have to be returned permanently as a climate dividend or climate money. “But we should do that as unbureaucratically as possible, for example with a per capita bonus.” Green leader Ricarda Lang welcomed Heil’s suggestions in the newspapers of the Funke media group. The coalition will discuss the design.

The Greens and SPD factions pointed out that the traffic light partners had already agreed in the coalition committee on March 23 to develop a payment method for climate money. In fact, the traffic light decided at the time to create an unbureaucratic way for direct payments “this year if possible” via the tax ID. SPD faction deputy Dagmar Schmidt therefore told the dpa to Lindner’s address: “Instead of just lamenting what is allegedly not possible, he should now get to work.”

The Greens parliamentary group Vice President Andreas Audretsch told the dpa: “The climate money is a key instrument to make climate protection social by the income from the CO2 price being paid directly back to the people.” In addition, such a mechanism can then also be used, to give people additional money to relieve them in crisis situations in an uncomplicated way.

The head of the German Institute for Economic Research, Marcel Fratzscher, spoke on the RTL/ntv channels against “selling” the climate money that was planned anyway as a reaction to the high inflation. The general manager of the Paritätischer Wohlfahrtsverband, Ulrich Schneider, called Heil’s proposal at the editorial network Germany (RND) a “great approach”. Verdi boss Frank Werneke welcomed the move – but all income from CO2 pricing would have to be returned in full.

Strong criticism came from the Union. “Although the relief is correct, we now have a real patchwork of measures,” said the economic policy spokeswoman for the Union faction, Julia Klöckner, of the dpa. “Who else can see through that?” The climate money is also too bureaucratic.

According to Heil, the amount of a “social climate money” is still open, as well as the amount and exact costs for it and for a higher citizen’s income. “We’re already talking about amounts in the tens of billions,” says Heil. The climate money is financed from the income from the CO2 price, the citizen money from taxes. Irrespective of this is the energy price flat rate of 300 euros that has already been decided.