The job centres have never had an easy task with their social and labour market policy remit. The transition of the Ukrainian refugees into the Basic Support for Jobseekers, the management of the energy crisis and the implementation of the Citizen’s Income have highlighted the particular challenges, revealing even more clearly the structural deficits in the funding of the more than 400 job centres. As the agencies responsible for of the job centres – both the joint institutions and the municipal job centres – the municipal umbrella organisations and the Federal Employment Agency jointly demand the following:
Additional tasks require additional money
Job centres must be provided with adequate financial resources. The Citizen’s Income Act again significantly changes and expands the legal mandate of the job centres, which has only just been widened to include the care of the displaced Ukrainians. In order to be able to provide even better care for the long-term unemployed in accordance with the objectives of the Citizen’s Income Act and to integrate them into work, the job centres need appropriate financial resources in both the administrative costs budget and the integration budget. The budget allocated to the job centres must be sufficient for the fulfilment of their demanding tasks.
In view of this, the reduction in administrative costs for 2023 must be strongly criticized: this only puts even more pressure on job centres to reallocate funds for the integration of the long-term unemployed to the administrative cost item. This year, most job centres are planning to reallocate more than half a billion euros, equivalent to double last year’s figure. This further limits the scope for action of active labour market policy.
In addition, it should be noted that the Participation Opportunities Act, which entered into force in 2019, introduced instruments that are long-term in nature and thus also commit funds on a permanent basis. It is therefore imperative that sufficient budgetary resources be made available for commitments already made in order to avoid a situation of competition between customers who are closer to the labour market who, for example, need a qualification and people who are furthest from the labour market and eligible for subsidised employment.
This issue is of fundamental importance and therefore not only relevant for the 2023 budget, but also with a view to future financial years.
Ukrainian refugees also require more staff
In addition, the integration of Ukrainian refugees in particular requires additional staff. In individual job centres, the number of persons able to work and eligible for benefits has increased by up to 30 per cent – and at the same time budgets are decreasing.
Against this background, additional funding needs to be distributed in relation to the number of Ukrainian refugees per job centre (change in the number of cases compared to 2021). Such a distribution criterion had already been applied to the allocation of additional funds during the migratory movements of 2015/16, in particular in relation to Syrian refugees.
Basic requirements for job centres
The distribution of these budget resources to the job centres has hitherto been based on the share of the needs community of the respective job centre. This proportional criterion ignores the basic costs of a job centre, which are legally stipulated by the SGB II. Irrespective of the number of employees at the job centre, these statutory functions of the management, the budget officer, the staff representatives, the gender equality commissioners and the commissioner for equal opportunities on the labour market must be held in staff posts.
As a result, there is a basic requirement for administrative resources, which arises independently of the number of people to be looked after. This basic requirement should be allocated to each job centre regardless of the number of households to be looked after. In addition, cooperation between neighbouring job centres should be simplified and made more attractive.
We call on federal politicians to respond to the justified concerns of job centres regarding adequate funding and to recognise their needs. Citizen’s Income is the central welfare system for 5.7 million people today. Providing them with prospects on the labour market, so that they are able to secure their livelihood independently of government transfers, is a key goal of German social policy. In order to be able to fulfil this remit, the job centres need ideal conditions in terms of financing and personnel.
Nuremberg/Berlin, June 2023