Millions of needy people will receive higher state benefits and more thorough support from the job centers in the coming year. On Wednesday evening, the mediation committee cleared the way for citizen income. The Union and the traffic light coalition had previously agreed on a compromise on Tuesday.
Citizens’ income will start on January 1, 2023 with significantly higher standard rates in basic security. However, essential parts of the reform will not come into force until July 1st: The job centers should draw up a cooperation plan with each and every unemployed person concerned, in which the planned path back to regular work is determined.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) had defended the reform again in the morning against earlier criticism from the Union. What distinguishes the federal government and the CDU and CSU is “apparently the image that we have of the citizens of our country”. In their eyes, the CDU and CSU had criticized the rules for being too lenient and warned that those affected could take advantage of them at the expense of taxpayers and contributors.
In the current crisis, many people are not only worried about high energy and food prices, but above all about their jobs and the future of their business, said Scholz. “That shows one thing very clearly: the citizens want to work and they want to be able to make a decent living from their work.”
Because the Bundesrat, unlike the Bundestag, had not approved the draft by Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD), the mediation committee was called upon. The committee made up of the Bundestag and Bundesrat had now come together for a meeting. Both houses should finally agree by Friday.
CDU leader Friedrich Merz assumes that, in addition to the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, the state governments with Union participation will also agree to the citizen money compromise. “This is a reasonable compromise,” said Merz on Wednesday evening after the agreement. He would meet the CDU prime ministers and vice prime ministers on Thursday evening. “I assume that all countries governed and co-governed by the Union will agree. I can at least say that for the countries co-governed by the CDU.”
Kretschmann: Happy about an amicable solution
Baden-Württemberg’s Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) welcomed the compromise on citizen income. “I’m glad that we found an amicable solution today and that both sides have moved towards each other,” explained Kretschmann, as the State Chancellery announced on Wednesday evening in Stuttgart. Before the meeting of the Mediation Committee of the Bundestag and Bundesrat, he had campaigned for the agreement.
“It has always been important to me that professional qualifications now have priority over placement in work,” said Kretschmann. “Because we have to activate people in order to integrate them permanently into the labor market.” That is also important in order to combat the shortage of skilled workers.
Under pressure from the CDU, the Baden-Württemberg state government had abstained from citizenship payments in the Bundesrat. The citizens’ allowance planned by the federal government is intended to replace the current Hartz IV system.
Giffey: “Largest welfare state reform in the last two decades”
For Berlin’s Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey, the introduction of citizen income, which is now within reach, is the “biggest welfare state reform of the last two decades”. This will ensure “that people who – for whatever reason – no longer participate in working life, have future prospects and real chances of getting back into work,” said the SPD politician on Wednesday evening.
Giffey continues: “The aim is to get people into good work as quickly as possible through improved training and further education and professional qualifications and thus counteract the shortage of skilled workers. In this way, the citizen’s income is also a sign of justice, encouragement and respect.”
“The compromise is impressive”
For Hesse’s head of government, Boris Rhein, the solution that has now been found on citizen income is acceptable. “The compromise is impressive. I consider the result to be a great success for federalism,” said the CDU politician on Wednesday evening.
Rhein said that from his point of view the most important thing about the compromise is that there is no grace period (time of trust) for those who only want to be supported by the state, but do not want to be challenged, as previously planned. “That means: moderate sanctions, i.e. reductions in performance by ten percent, are possible with the first breach of duty; they can be increased to up to 30 percent after the third breach of duty.”