News SPD targets Hartz IV

SPD targets Hartz IV

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Berlin For years now, no topic has stirred up the comrades as much as the Agenda 2010 and its central component, the Hartz reforms. The large camp of the Hartz opponents in the party holds the reforms set by the then SPD Chancellor Gerhard Schröder for the great fall of the Social Democracy.

Now fundamental changes to the topic of Hartz IV should help to heal the wounds. "We want to leave Hartz IV behind us," said the Rhineland-Palatinate Prime Minister Malu Dreyer on Saturday at the Federal Party Congress in Berlin. The SPD wanted the job centers to meet people at eye level. "We do not want these people to be supplicants."

The social state concept, which the delegates decided on Saturday, provides, among other things, that Hartz IV recipients are entitled to qualify and receive financial support in obtaining a school-leaving certificate.

However, the SPD wants to renounce the complete abolition of the Hartz IV sanctions, with which the cash payments can be reduced in case of lack of cooperation with the job centers. "Breach of duty can not be without consequences", it says in a compromise for the party congress. "The subsistence level must be guaranteed." Previously, it said in the paper: "Violations can be sanctioned."

"I think that we have found a good way there," said Federal Labor Minister and SPD Vice Hubertus Heil. There are two poles in the social debate: those who suspect that all the unemployed are too lazy to work – and others "who believe that any form of participation is an attack on human dignity." Both are wrong.

The welfare state paper envisages a transformation of the basic security for job-seekers (Hartz IV) into a citizen's allowance, a longer entitlement to unemployment benefit I and a basic child protection scheme. There is also an unemployment benefit for qualifications. The minimum wage should rise "in perspective" to twelve euros. In addition, according to the SPD, a right to mobile work and home office will be anchored by law in the future. Furthermore, there should be a civil insurance in the care.

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A draft of the welfare state concept had already been submitted by the party in February. The social democrats' reform plans were given a boost by the Federal Constitutional Court ruling on Hartz IV on 5 November. The judges had ruled that months of reductions of 60 percent of Hartz IV benefits or more are incompatible with the Basic Law. Job centers may therefore continue to cut monthly benefits by 30 percent if unemployed people do not fulfill their obligations. But the fundamental rights guaranteed subsistence level must not be fallen below, so the judgment of the judges.

"Groundbreaking" welfare state paper

The new SPD leader Saskia Esken had in a first reaction to the verdict in November still concluded that Hartz IV was a total unconstitutional. However, this far-reaching interpretation of the verdict does not endorse the social state concept of the SPD.

Nonetheless, Saskia Esken and Norbert Walter-Borjans, who had already been elected as the Party's new leadership duo on Friday, made it clear that they wanted their party to change course in labor market and social policies. Esken had declared war on the low-wage sector and announced that the SPD would "overcome" Hartz IV and "bring the welfare state into the 21st century". The welfare state paper of the party was "groundbreaking".

In the board elections, the party rival Ralf Stegner and Berlin Mayor Michael Müller suffered on Saturday a defeat. Both fell through in the first ballot and then did not compete. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas failed in the first ballot, but was clearly elected in the second ballot. Family Minister Franziska Giffey, Environment Minister Svenja Schulze, Brandenburg's Prime Minister Dietmar Woidke, Lower Saxony's Minister of the Interior Boris Pistorius and the Saxon SPD leader Martin Dulig were also elected. The Foreign Minister of State and MP Niels Annen did not make it into the body.

Already on Friday, delegates Klara Geywitz, Hubertus Heil, Kevin Kühnert, Serpil Midyatli and Anke Rehlinger had been elected deputy chairmen of the SPD. With 79.8 percent, Schleswig-Holstein SPD state chairman Midyatli scored the best result. In contrast, Juso CEO Kevin Kühnert, whose application speech was considered with thunderous applause, had to content with 70.4 percent of the votes, Hubertus Heil with 70.0 percent. In order to avoid a fight candidate between Heil and Kühnert, the number of deputy positions on Friday had been increased in the short term from three to five.

MoreAfter a long back and forth, the party congress decided with a large majority: The SPD wants to give the grand coalition another chance – at least for the time being. The CDU boss is pleased.

(TagToTranslate) SPD (t) Hartz IV (t) SPD Party Congress (t) Federal Party (t) Coalition (t) Federal Government (t) Social Benefit (t) State (t) Unemployment Insurance (t) Social Security (t) Party ( t) Social Assistance (t) Social Policy (t) Labor Market (t) CDU (t) Federal Constitutional Court (t) Saskia Esken (t) Hubertus Heil (t) Kevin Kühnert

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