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Drop in the number of annual sanctions

three out of four benefit reductions due to missed appointments

14 Apr 2020 | Press Release No. 23
  • Large drop in the number of sanctions over the past year
  • Over 90% of beneficiaries not hit by sanctions
  • Three quarters of all sanctions due to missed appointments

Drop in number of sanctions Ÿ Most sanctions due to missed appointments

Last year, the local offices of the Jobcenter imposed 807,000 sanctions against persons who were fit to work and eligible to receive benefits. The number of benefits reductions therefore decreased by 97,000 compared to the previous year.

As in the previous year, most of the sanctions (77%) were due to missed appointments – the local offices of the Jobcenter imposed 625,000 sanctions against beneficiaries who failed to attend their scheduled appointments without a compelling reason. In such cases, the Jobcenter cuts the standard rate of benefits by 10% for three months. The branches of the Jobcenter that are jointly run by the Federal Employment Agency (BA) and the local authorities are trying to reduce the number of missed appointments by offering an SMS reminder service. Customers can ask for a reminder to be sent to their phone 24 hours before their appointment.

83,000 sanctions were imposed against people who refused to undertake a job or professional development measure, or against those who quit such a placement. Benefit payments were cut due to violations of the agency agreement in 65,000 cases. In such cases, the Jobcenter cuts the standard rate of benefits by 30% for three months. As adjudicated by the Federal Constitution Court, this rule now applies to anyone entitled to receive benefits – regardless of their age. Prior to this ruling, standard benefits were sometimes completely cut for adolescents, and payments were then initially limited to their rent. If they violated the agency agreement again, their rent payments were also cut. Since the end of last year, however, the sanctions have been limited to a maximum of 30% of the standard benefits, regardless of the beneficiary’s age and number of violations.

Monthly and annual rate on the decline Ÿ Over 90% not hit by sanctions

An average of 3.1% of people who were fit to work and eligible to receive benefits were sanctioned each month in 2019. The monthly average had been 3.2% in the previous year.

8.3% of people who were fit to work and eligible to receive benefits were sanctioned at least once over the course of 2019, producing a total of 401,000 cases. This annual rate reflects the cumulative total of beneficiaries sanctioned at least once over the course of the year. The annual rate had been 3.5% in the previous year.

As shown by the figures, 90% of beneficiaries were not hit by sanctions.

Impact of the Federal Constitutional Court ruling of 5 November 2019

On 5 November 2019, the Federal Constitutional Court ruled that sanctions in the form of benefits reductions had to be limited to a maximum of 30% of the standard rate – regardless of the beneficiary’s age and number of violations. Furthermore, a sanction may be waived if it would result in extraordinary hardship or contradict the objectives set forth in the Second Book of the German Social Security Code (SGB II). In addition, a sanction may be limited to one month if the beneficiary seriously and consistently declares his/her willingness to cooperate in the future.

2.7% of people who were fit to work and eligible to receive benefits were sanctioned in December 2019. However, it is still too early to reliably predict the long-term impact of the ruling issued by the Federal Constitutional Court.