Hartz IV is not enough for a balanced diet, say consultants in the Ministry of Agriculture. The Ministry of Labor sees it differently.
FRANKFURT AM MAIN taz | The federal government ignores the advice from its own advisors that healthy nutrition is not to be paid for for Hartz IV recipients. That is in the response of the SPD-led Federal Ministry of Labor to a small request from the Greens’ social politician Sven Lehmann. The document is exclusively available to the taz.
It is a recommendation of the scientific advisory board of the Ministry of Agriculture. Last summer, the latter had submitted an expert opinion for a “Policy for Sustainable Nutrition”, which insistently states: “The current basic security is not sufficient without further support resources to achieve a healthy diet.”
The committee even attested: “There is also poverty-related malnutrition in Germany and sometimes hunger too”. Logically, “in the sense of a policy prescribed to the sustainability goals, the calculation bases and methods for the determination of the standard requirements should be checked”.
However, the federal government does not seem interested in implementing this advice. In the answer to Lehmann’s request, she wrote that there was no need for a review. The task of determining the standard needs is also in the area of nutrition, “that people receiving subsistence benefits are placed in the same way as all low-income households”.
In concrete terms, this means that ensuring a healthy diet is not the goal at all. The standard rates should only reflect the – very scarce means – of the lowest incomes. However, some items of expenditure are still deducted from the basic security.
5.09 euros a day for food
For the Green politician Lehmann, the answer from the federal government is “outrageous”: “It must be the federal government’s claim that all people are financially secure so that they can eat healthily,” he told taz. The determination of standard needs must be reformed accordingly.
The standard rate for single people is currently 446 euros per month. In addition to the unemployed, children, people with disabilities and the elderly also have to earn their living from the basic security. For food and beverages, around EUR 5.09 per day is currently earmarked for singles as an expense item. The amount is even lower for children and young people and people in couple households.
So you can’t eat healthily, emphasizes the sociology professor Sabine Pfeiffer from the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, where she researches nutritional poverty in Germany. “Especially when people are related for a longer period of time, this is a clear problem for them. You can make ends meet for a short time with so little money, but the longer you draw the basic security, the less easy it is to balance the items.”
Pfeiffer is calling for the standard rates to be increased accordingly. “The fact that we say that nobody or nobody has to starve to death here cannot be the benchmark in a country like Germany.” The researcher emphasizes that nutrition is not a luxury issue.
The SPD has adopted the standard rate determination in its election program draft. There it is only vaguely stated: “We will further develop the criteria for determining the standard rate and include those affected and social associations.”
However, one looks in vain for a binding statement as to whether this should also lead to an increase in benefits.