Reductions in benefits fell again in 2022
Last year, the Jobcenters were required to impose 148,488 reductions in benefits to persons entitled to benefits and capable of working, which was 45,241 fewer than in the year 2021. In total, 99,571 persons entitled to benefits and capable of working were affected, 31,389 fewer than in the previous year. The number of reductions in benefits is considerably lower than it was before the pandemic. In 2019, 806,811 reductions were imposed. In addition to the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, this has also been caused by the 2019 ruling of the German Federal Constitutional Court and the “moratorium on sanctions”.
Last year, it was only necessary for 2.7 percent of persons entitled to benefits to be imposed with at least one sanction. The year before that, the same figure was 3.1 percent. This means that 97 in every 100 people are not affected by reductions.
During the “moratorium on sanctions” from July 2022 until December 2022, an initial failure to sign on did not result in a reduction in benefits. The only reductions included in the statistics are those due to a repeated failure to sign on. Legal action due to breaches of duty was not valid during this period. Therefore, no reasons-based differentiation between newly-imposed sanctions took place during this period.
Background: reductions in Citizen’s Benefit
The “moratorium on sanctions” came to an end at the end of last year. From January this year onwards, Jobcenters are once again required to review and, where necessary, impose reductions in benefits.
If persons entitled to benefits who are capable of working are guilty of a breach of duty or repeatedly fail to sign on, their benefits may be reduced. A breach of duty occurs, for example, if a job or vocational training course which is considered appropriate is not taken up or is discontinued, or a measure for integration into the labour market is not taken up or discontinued. A failure to sign on is when appointments at the Jobcenter or at a medical or occupational psychological service are not kept without good reason.
In the case of an initial breach of duty, the standard amount of support is reduced by 10 percent for one month, in the case of a second breach of duty, by 20 percent for two months, and in the final stage, by 30 percent for three months. Benefits may be reduced by a maximum of 30 percent of the standard amount of support. Up to this maximum amount, the reductions can also be added up in individual cases. Support for the costs of rent and heating may not be reduced.
Reductions in benefits will not be imposed if there is an important reason for the behaviour of the individual or if they would cause extraordinary hardship in the individual case.