In Brief: Germany’s high court rules: Large cuts to Hartz IV social benefits are unconstitutional

Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court has ruled that some cuts to Hartz IV unemployment and welfare benefits are unconstitutional.

Photo by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash


In the future, Hartz IV payments made to people who fail to meet certain criteria may only be reduced by a maximum of 30%.

The ruling says cuts of 60%, or even 100%, are unconstitutional. Hartz IV can be cut if the recipient does not accept what is considered a reasonable job, quits working, or rejects a promotion.

Germany’s Federal Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Hubertus Heil called the decision a wise verdict. Heil says the ruling provides a great opportunity, because the issue has been highly contested in society, and Germany’s Constitutional Court has now created legal certainty on the matter.

The current Hartz IV rate is 424 euros per month. Around 350,000 Berliners are currently dependent on this money.

According to a new study commissioned by the Bertelsmann Stiftung, doctors in Germany often provide excessive interventions.

Some examples provided include approximately 70,000 thyroid operations annually, though the study found in more than 90% of cases there were no malignant changes present. The study also criticizes the frequency of ovarian surgeries and the prescription of medications without evidence that they’re necessary.

The Stiftung says some reasons for unnecessary interventions may include false financial incentives or impractical expectations on the part of doctors and patients.

The German government is increasing the rebate for purchasing a new electric car. For electric cars with a list price below 40,000 euros there will be a 6,000 euro subsidy in the future: that’s an increase of 2,000 euros.

Some critics say the government is helping to pad the pockets of auto manufacturers, instead of investing in the necessary infrastructure to make the cars attractive to buyers or to reach Germany’s climate goals.


This news is brought to you in cooperation with Berliner Rundfunk.