Cuts in benefits imposed on basic income increase in 2023

•  Number of cuts in benefits increased last year

•  84.5 per cent of cuts in benefits were due to the failure to attend appointments 

•  Approximately 97 per cent of those entitled to benefits remain unaffected by cuts in benefits

10 Apr 2024 | Press release no.15

Increase in cuts in benefits in 2023

Last year, the Jobcenters imposed 226,008 cuts in benefits on people entitled to benefits, 77,520 more than in 2022. In total, 128,415 persons entitled to benefits and capable of working were affected, 28,935 more than in the previous year. The number of cuts in benefits is therefore above the level of the previous three years, but still well below the pre-pandemic level. In 2019, 806,811 cuts in benefits were imposed. In addition to the consequences of the pandemic, the reasons for the decline include the ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court at the end of 2019 and the new rules regarding cuts in benefits with the introduction of the Citizen’s Benefit in 2023. However, the difference in comparison with the previous year 2022 is mainly due to the moratorium on sanctions in the second half of the year. During this period, cuts in benefits were only possible due to a failure to sign on, and amounted to a maximum of 10 percent of the relevant standard support per month. 

In 2023, cuts in benefits were imposed on 2.6 per cent of those entitled to benefits and capable of working. The year before that, the same figure was 2.7 percent. This means that 97 in every 100 people are not affected by cuts in benefits.

Failure to sign on accounts for 84.5 per cent of all cuts in benefits

The number of cuts in benefits was mainly due to failure to sign on, i.e. customers failing to attend their appointments without good reason. From February to December 2023, it was necessary for 191,016 cuts in benefits to be imposed for this reason. No differentiated information on the reasons was available in January 2023. This accounted for 84.5 per cent of all cuts 2023. From February to December 2023, it proved necessary for 15,774 reductions to be imposed due to “refusal to take up or continue work, training, a programme or subsidised employment”. 

Citizen’s Benefit brings in new rules regarding cuts in benefits

Following the expiry of the moratorium on sanctions, since the introduction of the Citizen's Benefit in January 2023, Jobcenters have been required to assess cuts in benefits more extensively again and to impose them where necessary. 

In the case of an initial breach of duty, the standard support is cut by 10 percent for one month, in the case of a second breach of duty, it is cut by 20 percent for two months, and in the final stage, by 30 percent for three months. Cuts in benefits for failure to sign on always amount to 10 per cent of the standard support for one month.

Benefits can be cut by a maximum of 30 percent of the standard support. The cuts can accumulate up to this maximum amount. Benefits to cover the costs of rent and heating may not be reduced.

Cuts in benefits are not imposed if there is an important reason for the behaviour of the individual in an individual case or if the cuts would cause exceptional hardship.

The rules governing cuts in benefits were updated in March 2024. It is now the case that people capable of work who repeatedly refuse to co-operate and fail to take up reasonable employment can have their standard support withdrawn for up to two months.