Citizens’ income is the central social reform that the coalition has undertaken. In view of the aftermath of the war, what about implementation?

Federal Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil wants to present a bill for the announced citizens’ allowance in the summer, which is intended to replace the current Hartz IV system. This was announced by the SPD politician on Wednesday in the government survey in the Bundestag.

In the second half of the year, the “very big” reform should be discussed and decided in parliament, Heil told the MPs. “We have to get out of the trenches of the last 16 years of the Hartz IV debate.”

The so-called Hartz IV reform essentially came into force on January 1, 2005. “We want to overcome Hartz IV,” said Heil. Today’s Social Security Code II is “probably one of the most bureaucratic laws there is”.

Heil expressly confirmed the announcement in the coalition agreement that the social labor market, which was limited to the end of 2024, would be given an unlimited term. People who haven’t had a job for a particularly long time are put back into work with wage subsidies and special coaching.

Getting better in action and tone

According to Heil, the core of the basic income reform is that the welfare state will be better “in action and in tone”. The integration agreements are quite bureaucratic today. Recipients of Unemployment Benefit II must complete this with the job center.

In anticipation of the citizen income reform, the coalition wants to pass a law this Thursday that will suspend the sanctions for Hartz IV recipients for breaches of duty for one year until mid-2023. Heil pointed out that the agreements between the job center and the unemployed should be much more at eye level in the future. Only a minority of cases are affected by breaches of duty and sanctions. Heil did not give any further details on possible future restrictions in the event of breaches of duty.

The Union sharply criticized the suspension of Hartz IV sanctions planned by the coalition. “The traffic light gives up the principle of promoting and demanding without need, against the firm advice from many employment agencies,” said the deputy chairman of the Union faction, Hermann Gröhe (CDU), the dpa in Berlin. “It sends a completely wrong signal.” The Union rejects the project.

In a statement, the Federal Employment Agency had warned that the job centers still needed a handle if individual beneficiaries refused completely and did not accept reasonable job offers. Originally, the sanctions were only supposed to be suspended until the end of 2022, but the coalition introduced another change.