According to a report by the Paritätischer Wohlfahrtsverband, poverty has risen to its highest level since reunification. But there are big regional differences. The corona crisis is likely to exacerbate the problems.
Poverty in Germany is at its highest level since reunification. This emerges from the annual poverty report of the Paritätischer Wohlfahrtsverband. It is based on data from the Federal Statistical Office on the so-called at-risk-of-poverty rate, often simply called the poverty rate. This had risen to 15.9 percent last year. That corresponded to about 13.2 million people affected. It is the “greatest measured poverty since reunification,” says the report.
Those who have less than 1074 euros are poor
In rich countries like Germany, poverty is not measured in terms of direct hardship such as hunger or homelessness, but in terms of household income and opportunities for social participation. The at-risk-of-poverty rate indicates the proportion of the population who have to get by on less than 60 percent of the median income. For a one-person household, this limit in Germany was 1074 euros a month last year. For a family with two children under 14 years at 2256 euros.
The Ruhr area is considered a problem region
For its poverty report, the Paritätischer Wohlfahrtsverband examined, among other things, how poverty is distributed regionally in Germany. There are still clear differences here: the regions with the lowest poverty rates are in the south of Germany. In Munich the poverty rate is accordingly 8.7 percent; in the Oberland region (several districts south of the Bavarian state capital) 9.4 percent. The highest value based on the number of inhabitants is found in and around Bremerhaven (26.4) and Bremen (24.5). The managing director of the Paritätischer Wohlfahrtsverband, Ulrich Schneider, described the Ruhr area with its high population density and a rate of 21.4 percent as “the number 1 problem region in terms of poverty policy”.
“The simple east-west comparison, the woodcut-like comparison of the new and old federal states, no longer works 30 years after unification.” Brandenburg now shows a poverty rate that is well below the national average. Thuringia also has a poverty rate below that of Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia or Bremen.
Corona aid does not reach the poorest
According to the report, marginally employed and young people are particularly affected. Single parents, the unemployed and families with many children are also at risk. In the group of poor adults, 33 percent are gainfully employed and almost 30 percent are retired.
The continued clear regional differences could increase as a result of the Corona crisis. The association therefore called for an increase in financial support services for poor people. “An increasing number of unemployed are encountering a social security system that did not protect against poverty even before Corona and whose weaknesses are now even more evident,” said Schneider. With the VAT reduction in the economic stimulus package against the Corona crisis, 20 billion euros were “literally wasted”. In the package, however, “not a cent” can be found for the poor. Among other things, he advocated an increase in Hartz IV rates and the introduction of basic child benefits.
FDP: Further training instead of social benefits
Left and Green call for a central consolidation of all social benefits for children. Left leader Katja Kipping accused the federal government of failing – like previous governments – in fighting poverty “across the board”.
The social policy spokesman for the FDP parliamentary group, Pascal Kober, spoke out against higher social benefits. Social problems cannot be solved with additional transfers. Instead, he called for better training opportunities, only qualification would help in the long term. “Even if that takes longer, it is better than having to remain dependent on the welfare state,” said Kober.