From June 1, the job centers in Berlin are expecting 60,000 refugees from the Ukraine who they will have to take care of as new customers. An additional 24,000 customers are expected in Brandenburg. That said Andreas Ebeling, spokesman for the Berlin-Brandenburg regional office of the Federal Employment Agency, the Tagesspiegel.
Because from June 1st, the care of the Ukraine refugees is to be taken over by the federal government – and thus by the job centers. So far, the war refugees have been cared for by the social welfare offices of the districts under the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act. In future, they will be entitled to benefits under the Social Security Code, i.e. unemployment benefit II (Hartz IV) or social assistance.
At the federal level, warnings of a stagnation in supply had been raised due to the expected rush. According to the Federal Employment Agency, there is a risk that job centers will be overburdened, especially in large cities like Berlin. A seamless provision of benefits is also important because refugees could otherwise lose their health insurance coverage. Tens of thousands of Ukrainians in Berlin therefore have to do a security check.
The German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) called for the job centers to be given the necessary human and financial resources to integrate the Ukrainian refugees. According to the federal government’s original draft budget, 4.4 billion euros less should be made available this year for basic security for jobseekers than in 2021 because the governing coalition assumed a sharp decline in the number of those entitled to benefits.
In Berlin, the threat of a rush to job centers starting in June is being taken more calmly than at the federal level. Spokesman Ebeling said: “There is no risk of overloading.” For existing customers of the job center, everything will remain the same. According to spokesman Ebeling, no one needs to fear overcrowded counters and queues in front of the buildings. Operations for the previous “regular clientele” will not be changed and will continue as before.
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Because at the same time as the number of refugees from the Ukraine is increasing, Ebeling assumes that the number of other customers in the states of Berlin and Brandenburg will shrink. The spokesman said: “For example, customers who needed SGB II benefits in the corona pandemic are leaving the job centers again due to economic recovery.” Additional staff will therefore not be hired.
However, a special central hotline has been set up for the languages Russian and Ukrainian, and brochures have also been produced in both languages. Ebeling: “Even if it is demanding, we will rise to the challenge.”
The job centers should also be relaxed that a transitional period is planned during which the social welfare offices will continue to be open to war refugees. This is to avoid long queues on June 1st and days without financial support for the refugees. The whole thing will not be decided until the end of May by the Bundestag and Bundesrat.
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Meanwhile, there is good news for students from Ukraine. Berlin finances their start of studies in Berlin with a total of 200,000 euros. Those affected can receive a subsidy of 1000 euros from this fund if their own money is not sufficient. This should, for example, be used to finance semester fees or the purchase of technology. The Ukraine subsidy can now be applied for at the Studierendenwerk.