People from Ukraine arriving at the Berlin train station being handed free SIM cards by Vodafone /Photo: AfricanCourierMedia

Ukraine refugees receive Hartz IV instead of asylum aid as from June

Ukrainian refugees are entitled to regular social benefits as from 1 June, according to a law passed the Bundesrat, the upper chamber of the German federal parliament

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Refugees from Ukraine will be entitled to regular social benefits such as Hartz IV from June onwards. The Bundesrat approved a corresponding law on Friday (20 May), which implements an agreement between the federal government and the Länder.

Until now, war refugees from Ukraine have received lower benefits under the Asylum Seekers Act. The regular social benefits are also linked to offers of integration into the labour market for the approximately 600,000 Ukrainian refugees in Germany.

The refugees from Ukraine thus switch to receiving regular social benefits more quickly than was previously the case. In addition, the federal government also bears a higher share of the costs for the care of the war refugees.

Meanwhile, the municipalities have criticised insufficient preparation on the part of the federal government in accepting Ukrainian war refugees into the basic social security systems. “The changes in the law have been prepared at the federal level without sufficient consultation with the practice,” said the Chief Executive of the German Association of Towns and Municipalities, Gerd Landsberg, in an interview with the newspaper “Augsburger Allgemeine”.

The Job Centres do not yet have enough forgery-proof documents from the Federal Printing Office, so-called fictitious certificates, with which foreigners can prove a temporary right of residence, Landsberg said. In addition, a large number of refugees are still not fully registered.

The Federal Ministry of Labour, however, does not see any problems in issuing social welfare certificates to Ukrainians. Sufficient forms would be available by June, the ministry told the “Evangelischer Pressedienst”. In addition, certificates that do not comply with the prescribed format will be recognised until the end of October. The prerequisite for recognition, however, is that the certificates were issued before 31 May 2022 and contain the same information as the legally required form.

With the law, the Bundesrat also approved supplementary payment to poorer families to cushion the consequences of the Corona crisis and the Ukraine war. This year, recipients of basic income support will receive a one-off payment of 200 euros. For children in poorer families, a supplement of 20 euros per month will be paid from July onwards.

Sola Jolaoso

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