The federal government wants to cut a funding pot for the long-term unemployed in the coming year. As can be seen from the draft budget passed in the cabinet, only 4.2 billion euros are planned for “benefits for integration into work”. This year, on the other hand, around 4.8 billion are available. First, the “Spiegel” reported on the numbers.

However, the 4.2 billion is still more than was spent on incorporation last year. For 2021, around 4.04 billion euros are booked. Among other things, wage cost subsidies for employers who hire long-term unemployed people are financed from the pot.

The funds earmarked for 2023 are at the same level as in 2019, said a spokeswoman for Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD). The Bundestag also decides on the final equipment. Heil will “continue to campaign for an active labor market policy and for a corresponding long-term funding of the social labor market”.

With the so-called social labor market, jobs for the long-term unemployed at non-profit organizations, municipalities and in the private sector are subsidized by the state. Long-term unemployed are unemployed who have been unemployed for a year or more. Before the Corona crisis, their number had continuously decreased slightly. According to data from the Federal Employment Agency, it has been rising again since 2020.

Overall, the model of the social labor market is a success, said the Green MP Frank Bsirske. The coalition is convinced of its benefits, which is why it should continue to be financed accordingly in the future. According to the Ministry of Labor almost 50,000 people found their way out of long-term unemployment.

However, further cuts are initially planned in the draft budget, for example to 2.5 billion euros in 2024 and even to 5 million euros from 2029. The Bundestag will only decide on the budget for 2023. After that, Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) will negotiate again the specialist ministers, so the longer-term figures are non-binding.

SPD faction deputy Dagmar Schmidt also emphasized that no budget had yet been decided. “Social security will play a crucial role in the forthcoming budget deliberations,” she said. “We will not leave anyone behind and create new opportunities.” Bundestag Vice President Katrin Göring-Eckardt also announced debates about the cut. “Even if you only look at it from an economic point of view and say we need these workers, it is important to ensure that something like integration aid continues to happen,” said the Greens politician on Deutschlandfunk.

The FDP MP Jens Teutrine pointed out on Twitter that funds that were not spent this year could also be used in the coming year.

Criticism came from associations and the opposition. Investments in further training for the unemployed are money well spent, said DGB board member Anja Piel. “Such investments are important in the fight against long-term unemployment and indispensable in view of the need for skilled workers.” The coalition factions would have to correct the draft in Parliament.

The President of Arbeiterwohlfahrt, Michael Groß, saw it as a “fatal signal to save on the poorest of all people”. “This will increase the feeling of social injustice in the population and can become explosive for social cohesion.”

Union faction Vice Hermann Gröhe called the plans irresponsible. “The traffic light lacks a plan for effectively getting the long-term unemployed into work in the long term,” he said. The social politician of the left, Jessica Tatti, told the “Spiegel” that if the SPD and the Greens go along with Finance Minister Christian Lindner’s plans, they will lose the last bit of socio-political credibility.

Berlin’s Senator for Social Affairs, Katja Kipping (left), also criticized the plans. “Finance Minister Lindner robs the long-term unemployed of opportunities for employment if, as announced, he cuts the support measures for the unemployed,” she said on Thursday. It is irresponsible to want to stabilize the federal budget on their backs. “Anyone who plans this only ensures that the long-term unemployed remain what they are: long-term unemployed.”

The traffic light promised that Hartz IV would become a citizen’s income. “But Lindner’s draft budget reveals that instead of citizen income, there will be even more poverty and hardship,” Kipping criticized. “Because if funds for basic security stagnate, but prices rise, the poverty gap grows.”