The FDP has considerable reservations about the plans of Social Affairs Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) for citizen income. The Liberals insist on maintaining sanctions for the successor model for basic security, oppose new methods of calculation and insist on better additional earning opportunities for benefit recipients.
The introduction of citizen income is agreed in the coalition agreement between the SPD, Greens and FDP and is one of the most important projects of the traffic light alliance. It is already mentioned in the preamble. “We are replacing the basic security with a new citizen’s income, so that the dignity of the individual is respected and social participation is better promoted,” it says.
On Wednesday, Minister Heil presented his plans for structuring citizen income, which is to replace Hartz IV in the coming year. The conditions should be less strict than with Hartz IV. According to Heil, the law should come into force on January 1st.
People who receive citizen income should therefore not have to fear any cuts in benefits for six months, even if, for example, they miss appointments at the job center.
However, the FDP insists on sanctions if those affected do not appear at appointments. Solidarity is not a one-way street, said Jens Teutrine, the member of the FDP parliamentary group responsible for citizen income from the German Press Agency. “As a last resort, sanctions are appropriate and necessary,” he replied when asked whether the FDP would go along with Heil’s planned six-month “period of trust” without sanctions.
FDP leader Christian Lindner also emphasized that many people could not understand “that they should not only support the needy with their taxes, but also those who intentionally do not keep appointments or reject offered education and work”. The Finance Minister told the newspapers of the Funke media group: “Solidarity must always include the consideration of only using society’s help to the extent necessary.”
According to Teutrine, the FDP wants to pay particular attention to changes in the additional income rules in the upcoming negotiations within the government on citizen income. According to Heil’s suggestions, pupils, trainees and students who receive citizen income should be allowed to earn more.
Teutrine called for the rules to be adjusted for adult beneficiaries as well. “There are still a number of further steps to be taken before the final text of the law is finalised,” he said. Lindner said: “By combining citizen income and a job, the recipients should have more money available than today.”
Heil’s desire to increase the standard rates by 40 to 50 euros and to introduce new calculation methods also met with opposition from the liberals. Lindner and Teutrine pointed out that the standard rates would in any case be adjusted annually to reflect wage and price developments. “We should stick to that,” demanded the FDP leader. Teutrine warned in the editorial network Germany (RND) of “incalculable costs” with a new calculation method. Single adults currently receive 449 euros in Hartz IV.
“The citizen’s income should be an activation and not an unconditional basic income,” the FDP chairman made clear in the Funke newspapers. Lindner emphasized that he was committed to improving the living situation of those receiving citizen benefit compared to Hartz IV.
“But the way is that taking up a job alongside receiving social benefits is attractive. We should show respect when people start working on a mini-job or part-time in addition to basic security,” Lindner continued. Bundestag Vice President Wolfgang Kubicki (FDP) warned in the “Bild” newspaper against “consolidating transfer payments”.
The Union is also skeptical about Heil’s citizen money plans. CDU leader Friedrich Merz said on Thursday that he was “very curious to see whether there are any incentives to return to the labor market”.