Poverty in Germany has reached record levels. This emerges from the new poverty report of the Paritätischer Gesamtverband for the year 2021. Accordingly, the poverty rate has risen to a high of 16.6 percent, the association said on Wednesday. “Accordingly, 13.8 million people in this country must currently be counted among the poor, 600,000 more than before the pandemic.” In 2019, the poverty rate was still 15.9 percent. Because of the inflation, the Paritätische Wohlfahrtsverband now expects the situation to worsen further.
According to an EU standard, the association classifies all people as poor whose income is below 60 percent of the median income. The household net is included in the calculation, i.e. in addition to wages, pensions and unemployment benefits, housing and child benefits are also included. For example, for a couple with two small children, the poverty threshold is 2410 euros.
The managing director of the parity association, Ulrich Schneider, called the study results “shocking”. According to the report, there was an unusual increase in poverty among those in work, particularly among the self-employed, where the rate rose from nine to 13.1 percent. Among pensioners, the rate was 17.9 percent, and among children and young people it was even 20.8 percent – both highs.
According to the association, five federal states have above-average poverty rates: North Rhine-Westphalia, Thuringia, Saxony-Anhalt, Berlin and last but not least Bremen. The association described the Ruhr area as the “number one problem region in terms of poverty policy”.
The joint general association called the federal government’s relief measures to date in view of the high inflation “unfair and insufficient”. Schneider criticized: “We have no sympathy for the federal government moving across the country as if with a watering can, providing support where it is not needed and only providing completely inadequate help where it is urgently needed.
The Greens consider the new figures to be alarming. “The report shows: The situation is dramatic, Germany has a problem of poverty,” said Green Party leader Ricarda Lang to the Tagesspiegel. It is particularly people who have to turn over every euro twice anyway, earn little or are dependent on social benefits who are particularly affected by the rising prices. Especially with a view to autumn and winter, further relief is needed, Lang demanded. These would have to be “targeted and needs-based”. “The state will not be able to absorb all the burdens. It is all the more important to support those who really need support.” According to Lang, it is also about ensuring more social security in the long term. “In particular, citizen income must now be pushed forward at full speed in order to strengthen social networks.”
As a measure against rising energy prices, Berlin’s Social Senator Katja Kipping (left) wants to use as much money as possible from the state’s own hardship fund for private households. “In view of the possible extent of energy poverty, the largest possible share from the fund will be necessary to support private households,” Kipping told the Tagesspiegel. As a precaution against rising energy costs, last week the House of Representatives decided on a reserve of 380 million euros with the double budget for the years 2022 and 2023.
According to preliminary calculations by the Federal Statistical Office, consumer prices rose by 7.6 percent in June. Low-income households in particular are cutting back on their consumption. 52 percent of the labor force with a monthly household income of up to 2,000 euros net feel compelled to buy less groceries. 18 percent even want to reduce the consumption of food “significantly”. This was the result of a survey by the Institute for Macroeconomics and Business Cycle Research (IMK) of the Hans Böckler Foundation, which is close to the trade union, among 6,200 workers. 36 percent of all respondents stated that they needed an additional 100 to 250 euros per month in order to be able to maintain their usual standard of living. Pages 9, 15 and opinion page