Even the term is a small deceptive package. Because the “moratorium on sanctions” for Hartz IV recipients, which the traffic light coalition decided on, in no way excludes cuts in unemployment benefit II.

Anyone who misses appointments at the job center, for example, can still be punished with a reduction of the standard requirement by a maximum of ten percent in the event of a repeat offense – this affects a large part of the sanctions imposed.

However, anyone who rejects job offers cannot be punished for a period of one year. This is an incomplete but sensible step on which the federal government was able to agree. But actually Hartz IV sanctions should be completely abolished.

Why? First of all, especially in times of exorbitant price increases, which are only insufficiently cushioned by the small one-off aid as part of the relief package, the needy are already in considerable existential need. The food banks in Germany are overrun by people who can hardly afford basic food anymore.

Generating further poverty in this situation jeopardizes social peace in the country. In addition, many of those affected do not keep their appointments out of malice or laziness, but suffer from psychologically limited ability to act.

It is also disputed whether sanctions actually achieve the goal of getting people into good working conditions in the long term. Although the employment agency points to the positive effects of sanctions when cooperating with job seekers, it admits, with reference to a study by the Institute for Labor Market and Occupational Research, that there are also indications of disadvantageous developments.

Those affected by sanctions tended to end up in lower-paying jobs that were less compatible with their own education. In addition, the sanctions regime in Hartz IV has not proven to be legally secure. In 2020, almost 70 percent of lawsuits against sanctions were successful. Appeals were successful in 48 percent of the cases. Apparently, job centers impose illegal sanctions in many cases.

Last but not least, a permanent abolition of the sanctions could mean that the communication on an equal footing, which the SPD has stated as the goal for dealing with job seekers, will also be honored. Because cooperation between partners cannot work if one partner can cut the other part of his subsistence level.

This black pedagogy is not effective for a trusting cooperation. In this respect, we can only hope that the traffic light not only maintains the limited moratorium on sanctions, but extends it to all sanctions.