By decision of the Bundestag, cuts in Hartz IV benefits for violations will be suspended for one year

Sanctions on welfare recipients will be eased until the federal government’s planned so-called “citizens’ income” (German: Bürgergeld) takes effect.

Cuts may not amount to more than 10 percent of the benefit

With votes from the SPD, the Greens and the FDP, the Bundestag passed a bill on Thursday (19 May) to suspend sanctions on recipients of the Hartz IV benefit for a year.

Under the new legislation, reductions in the benefit will only be possible for repeated failures to show up for appointments at the employment office, and cuts cannot amount to more than 10 percent of the benefit.

In 2019, the Federal Constitutional Court ruled that cutting basic security by more than 30 percent threatens the subsistence minimum and is therefore impermissible. Overall, however, the judges ruled that the duty to cooperate was constitutional.

CDU/CSU criticized the far-reaching lifting of the sanctions, while the Left Party would even go a step further

Next year, a coalition of SPD, Greens and FDP wants to introduce a so-called “citizen’s income” (German: Bürgergeld) to replace the previous form of basic security, and redefine the obligations of the unemployed to cooperate with the authorities. Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil (49, SPD) wants to present a draft law on “citizen’s income” later this summer.

The CDU/CSU have criticized the far-reaching lifting of sanctions. The Left Party, on the other hand, has called for the abolition of penalties also for failing to show up for appointments at the employment office.

According to federal government estimates, the moratorium will entail additional expenditures of about twelve million euros this year. The vast majority of that amount – about 11.6 million euros – will be covered by the federal government, with the states paying the remainder.


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