The housing benefit is increased

The federal government has decided to increase the housing benefit. More than 600,000 households could benefit from this. For some low-wage earners, there is 10 percent more money. A social association is still dissatisfied.

Many housing benefit recipients will soon receive more money.

Dhe federal government initiated an increase in housing benefits on Wednesday. The draft law approved by Federal Building Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) provides for improvements for around 660,000 low-income households.

A regionally staggered increase in the maximum amounts up to which the rent is taken into account is planned. The template also provides for the introduction of a new “rent level VII” in order to relieve households in municipalities and districts with high rents in a more targeted manner in terms of housing costs.

The housing benefit is intended to support people with rent or the costs of owner-occupied residential property who would otherwise have to apply for Hartz IV. According to the Federal Statistical Office, around 560,000 households in Germany were receiving housing benefit as of December 31, 2017.

Adjustment to rents and income

The new law is expected to come into force on January 1, 2020. The approval of the Federal Council is necessary because the housing benefit is paid half by the federal government and half by the federal states. According to the newspapers of the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND), the rent ceilings, which are decisive for the calculation of the housing benefit, are to be increased by up to 10.2 percent.

Unlike before, the housing benefit should be adjusted every two years to the existing rent and income development, it said in the newspaper report. The rents of those who receive housing benefit have risen by a good four percent since 2015. An increase of nine percent is expected by the end of 2019. The housing benefit was last adjusted at the beginning of 2016.

In the coalition agreement, the Union and the SPD had agreed to “adjust” the housing benefit “to the respective general and individual living conditions”. At the residential summit in the Chancellery last autumn, it was agreed to increase the “level of performance and range” from 2020 onwards.

Social association considers increase inadequate

The building policy spokesman for the CDU / CSU parliamentary group in the German Bundestag, Kai Wegner, welcomed the increase: “With the draft of the Housing Benefit Act, Federal Building Minister Seehofer is advancing another coalition and housing summit project.” The coalition will “relieve numerous tenants in Germany”. In tense housing markets in particular, it is important to “consolidate its social support”.

The Social Association Germany (SoVD), however, criticized the increase as inadequate. It is true that it is “right if the federal government finally increases the housing benefit,” said SoVD President Adolf Bauer. “But as important as the overdue housing allowance adjustment is, it is not enough.” Instead of the adjustment planned by the federal government over a period of two years, this must happen once a year.

“The cost of the accommodation must be adjusted to the rental price development,” said Bauer. “And, in addition to the development of incomes and rental costs, they should also take into account the additional needs of people with disabilities.”

The SoVD has presented an expert opinion on rent burdens and poverty. The study shows that there is a shortage of well over 1.9 million affordable apartments in major German cities. In addition, half of all rental households spend at least 29 percent of their net income on gross rent. Households with low incomes are particularly affected.