Fast payment of housing benefit not possible
Berlin The Minister of Construction North Rhine-WestphaliaIna Scharrenbach (CDU), attacks the federal government head-on in the planned housing benefit reform: It is “dishonest” if Chancellor Olaf Scholz or federal building minister Klara Geywitz (both SPD) are talking about quick and unbureaucratic help, Scharrenbach told the Handelsblatt.
“The federal government promises the citizens things that they can’t keep in the end,” she said CDU-Politician. The federal states and above all the municipalities did not manage to implement the reform quickly.
On average, housing benefit households should receive around 370 euros a month in the future. The traffic light coalition of SPD, Greens and FDP agreed to the project as part of the third relief package agreed. The measure aims to mitigate high energy prices for those on low incomes or retirees.
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NRW Minister Scharrenbach emphasized: “From January, more households in Germany will not immediately receive a state rent subsidy. You should say it honestly.” The number of applications will triple to the housing benefit offices. They are “overwhelmed by staff”.
The implementation of the federal draft law in the federal states also leads to programming effort for the digital application, which is between four and six months.
“Federal government deliberately causes disenchantment”
“The federal government is building up pressure here that the federal states and local authorities cannot meet in the short term, and the federal government knows that,” said Scharrenbach. “The federal government is thus deliberately making the affected citizens anxious, who are urgently waiting for support, and fueling resentment in the state institutions.”
The Conference of Building Ministers (BMK) had already discussed a reform of the housing allowance last week. The decision, which is available to the Handelsblatt, states that the project will “cause considerable additional work for the housing benefit offices”.
The edits would “not be possible without a significant increase in personnel”. However, the experience of the past few years shows that it is difficult to recruit suitable personnel in a timely manner.
NRW Minister Scharrenbach explained: “Practice shows that the application for and processing of housing benefit has become more and more complex and extensive in recent years.” With each change, the administrative effort and complexity for the applicants have increased. This is at the expense of the citizens and the administrative staff.
For at least ten years, advice has been given on how housing benefit can be simplified, said Scharrenbach. With the reform, the opportunity must be taken to reduce the bureaucracy and simplify the law.
Down payments are also not affordable
Federal Building Minister Geywitz herself also expects complications: “It would be an illusion to say that we have 1.5 million applicants or even many more – and that’s no problem at all,” she told the T-Online portal.
The draft law provides that the offices can make provisional advance payments before the application is decided.
But Scharrenbach is also critical of such payments: “Preliminary payments mean twice the work for the housing benefit authorities when processing the housing benefit applications.” First, a decision must be made about a preliminary payment and at a later point in time a final decision must be made in any case.
Against the background of the tense personnel situation in the municipalities, this additional work, combined with a tripling of the number of beneficiaries, is not affordable.
The federal government should pay
“By referring to a quick payment by means of deductions, expectations are raised among the citizens that the federal states and municipalities cannot meet – even if we want to,” she complained CDU-Politician and warned: “Then there may also be repayments as a result.”
There is also a dispute over the costs of the new housing allowance: the Ministry of Construction expects costs of more than three billion euros for the coming year. According to Geywitz, it is planned that the federal and state governments will each take on about half, because they are already sharing the cost of housing benefit.
Scharrenbach now explained: “We are talking about around four billion euros more funding that will be needed nationwide for the year 2023 alone.” That overwhelms the state budgets. “That’s why the federal government has to bear all the costs,” demanded the CDU politician.
The prime ministers of the federal states also said this on Wednesday. They see the federal government as solely responsible and do not want to pay.
The financing should therefore also play a role at the Prime Minister’s conference with Scholz next Tuesday.
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