According to calculations by the Child Protection Association (DKSB), child poverty in Germany is significantly higher than previously assumed – because many families do not exercise their entitlement to Hartz IV, child supplement or housing benefit. About 4.4 million children are affected by poverty, 1.4 million more than previously known, the association said on Wednesday. He reiterated the demand for basic child protection, which was also raised by the Greens and the Left.
The state pays social benefits for three million children so that their subsistence level is guaranteed, according to the Child Protection Association. If, however, those families were added that did not exercise their right to Hartz IV, child allowance or housing benefit, the number of children living in poverty would be significantly higher: "Because many families do not apply for benefits that they are actually entitled to due to their low or missing income."
Supplementary benefits for gainful employment, so-called top-up Hartz IV benefits, are only estimated to be used by around 50 percent of those actually entitled, the Child Protection Association said, referring to a government response to a green question. This affects around 850,000 children under the age of 18 who were not previously considered poor. To come after calculations the association once again has 190,000 children whose parents are not employed and still do not top up with other benefits.
"It is often because the parents are overwhelmed with the bureaucratic procedures or simply ashamed of it", explained DKSB President Heinz Hilgers. For individual services, the non-application is even up to 70 percent, such as the child supplement. Only 30 to 40 percent of the beneficiaries claim the surcharge. At least another 350,000 children under the age of 18 are affected.
"If we add everything up, we conservatively figure at a hidden figure of 1.4 million children", Hilgers said. "All these children are officially not poor, but they fall through the grid of our welfare state because the jungle of benefits is impenetrable for many parents."
In the short term, the upcoming reform of the child allowance must focus on ensuring that every child who is entitled to this benefit also receives it, Hilgers said. This must be flanked by a reform of the education and participation package, for example to secure the school needs of children.
Left boss Katja Kipping spoke of one "Poverty certificate for the federal government". The fight against child poverty must finally be an absolute priority, children and adolescents need one "Sufficient basic child insurance in the amount of around 600 euros".
Green Party leader Annalena Baerbock asked the federal government to urgently tackle the reform of the child supplement if "70 percent of parents shy away from filing an application because of bureaucratic hurdles". Increases in child support were not sufficient to support families, "we need a basic child protection".
The social association VdK called it "alarming that in a rich country like Germany 4.4 million children are affected by poverty". The federal government must provide targeted support to those, "that are our future", VdK President called >
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