Citizenship benefits for Ukrainian refugees in Germany are at the center of a heated debate. On the one hand, there is criticism that it could deter Ukrainian asylum seekers from looking for employment. At the same time, experts emphasize the importance of this financial help and point out the particular challenge of refugee-related labor market integration.
Only 19 percent of employable Ukrainians work in Germany
Despite the high level of education and knowledge of Ukrainian refugees, according to the “Mirror” Only around 19 percent of employable Ukrainians in Germany have a job that requires social security contributions. In contrast, the rate in other European countries, such as Poland and the Netherlands, is around 70 percent. Around 700,000 Ukrainians in Germany currently receive citizen’s benefit.
District administrators: Citizens’ money inhibits willingness to work
Criticism of the federal government’s decision to pay citizens’ money comes, among others, from SPD district administrator Matthias Jendricke from Nordhausen, Thuringia, who told the “Spiegel”: “This has made things too nice for them. Then the sofa is simply more comfortable than the German course.” CDU district administrator Joachim Walter from the Tübingen district argued similarly and blamed the “high payments” for the refugees’ declining willingness to work.
The “Spiegel” also reports that prominent CDU politicians such as Thorsten Frei and Carsten Linnemann are also critical of the current situation and are calling for new considerations about the design of the aid. Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) pointed out the financial impact of paying citizens’ money to Ukrainian refugees and estimated that these costs could rise to 5.5 to 6 billion euros in next year’s budget.
On the other hand, some, including labor market expert Herbert Brücker, argue that there is no connection between citizens’ benefit and the employment rate. In “Spiegel”, Brücker attributes the low employment rate to, among other things, the high number of women among the refugees, the conscription of men and the psychological stress caused by the war.
Heil wants to get more refugees into work
Meanwhile, Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) wants to get hundreds of thousands of refugees with the prospect of staying in work more quickly. Heil announced in Berlin in October that the focus should be on placing refugees in Ukraine, but also people from other countries, in jobs more quickly.
Heil said that over 100,000 refugees from Ukraine have recently completed an integration course for language acquisition. “100,000 more will complete the course in the next few months.” There are also around 200,000 people from other countries of origin to whom this also applies. “So we’re talking about a potential for our labor market of around 400,000 people,” says Heil. “We want and will bring these people from the school desk of integration courses to the workplace more quickly.”
In order to accelerate integration into the labor market, refugees should be regularly invited by the job centers. The contact density should be specifically increased. The individual cooperation plans should also specify steps such as further qualification in addition to employment or further language acquisition. Anyone who does not cooperate should have to fear cuts in citizens’ money.
Citizens’ money will increase in 2024
A significant increase in citizens’ money in Germany is expected for 2024. Citizens’ allowance is to increase by 61 euros from 502 euros to 563 euros for single adults. This increase, which will take effect from January, represents an increase of around twelve percent.
The increase in the citizen’s allowance is a reaction to the high inflation, which is now taken into account for the first time when calculating the citizen’s allowance. This measure is intended to adapt financial support for those in need to the increased cost of living.