A hostel for asylum-seekers in Berlin. Asylum-seekers in such group accommodation facilities received lesser benefits and sometimes they receive benefits in kind instead of in cash/Photo: AfricanCouriermedia

Germany: Reduced benefits for asylum-seekers in group accommodation unconstitutional, highest court declares

According to a ruling of Germany’s highest court on constitutional matters, the reduction of benefits for single adult asylum-seekers in group accommodation facilities is unconstitutional. The regulation, according to which asylum-seekers living in group accommodation receive ten per cent less benefits than refugees living in flats, violates the basic right to be guaranteed a minimum subsistence level worthy of human dignity, according to a ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court published on Thursday.

Currently, the standard rate for single adult asylum-seekers is 367 euros per month, for couples and people who are accommodated in collective accommodation 330 euros per month. Asylum-seekers in collective accommodation in particular receive benefits in kind instead of in cash.

However, the Federal Constitutional Court criticised that it was not recognisable that in collective accommodation, savings could be achieved through joint management of their benefits by the inmates, which would justify a reduction of benefits by ten per cent. It’s not like people forced to live together in such circumstances would behave like normal couples living together who collectively manage their finances.

An asylum-seeker from Sri Lanka, who arrived Germany in 2014, had filed a complaint against the regulation. After his asylum application was rejected, he was accommodated in a collective accommodation from November 2019 to February 2020. He shared a room with one person and a kitchen and bathroom with other persons. However, there was no relationship between the inmates of the hostel.

The refugee organisation Pro Asyl, which had supported the case of the Sri Lankan, welcomed the ruling.

The Sri Lankan is also happy about the decision. “Thanks to my case, all refugees in collective accommodation now get the money they are entitled to again. I now have a secure right of residence and work, but for the last few years I had to get by on 330 euros a month from the social welfare office – that’s far too little for a person in Germany, especially in times of inflation,” he said.

The man and his lawyer had taken the case against the reduced social benefits to the Social Court in Düsseldorf in April 2020.

Felix Dappah

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