Why this story matters:
German society is constantly debating the size of welfare payments. Many think the amounts are too low, and that the system condemns low-income citizens to a vicious circle of poverty.
Last week, Health Minister Jens Spahn said the system "is not poverty, but the answer to poverty".
In an interview that riled his critics, he implied that, thanks to the current system, there is no poverty in Germany.
Germany's current welfare plan was designed to incentivize the unemployed to seek jobs even if they're low-paid, and to supplement this revenue with welfare. But if, for any reason, someone cannot find work, the system does not allow them to live safely and with dignity.
Sandra S., the woman who created the petition, has to spend hours looking for bargains and sales if she wants to be able to provide for her small son. It remains to be seen if Spahn will be up for the challenge, but poverty undeniably exists in Germany, whether he believes it or not.
Details from the story:
- German citizens earning less than 9.000€ a year can apply for welfare (Hartz IV)
- They get 416€ for their daily expenses, + the rent for their apartments (calculated in each case, based on the average rent prices in their city)
- According to Sandra S., the money is barely enough for her and her son, and many other people have the same problem
- Jens Spahn also said that food banks exist only so that food wouldn't be thrown away.