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Electricity gap widening: Hartz IV cannot cover energy costs

Power gap increases
Hartz-IV cannot cover energy costs

The Hartz IV standard rates will be increased in 2022 – but they will still not be enough for those affected to cope with the rising energy costs. Almost 32 percent have to pay single Hartz IV households more than intended in the rates. More and more people are getting into debt because of this.

Despite higher Hartz IV standard rates since the beginning of the year, the money for those affected is less and less enough to cover the sharply rising electricity prices, according to the comparison portal Verivox. According to this, a single Hartz IV household currently has to pay 139 euros per year or almost 32 percent more for energy than the electricity cost share in the standard rate covers. Since the end of September, this electricity cost gap for recipients of unemployment benefit II has increased by 44 euros, as Verivox announced.

“In 2022, the standard rate for a single adult will rise by three euros to 449 euros per month,” says the comparison portal. “From a purely arithmetical point of view, 36.44 euros are earmarked for paying the electricity bill.” However, according to Verivox calculations, the electricity costs of a single household with a consumption of 1500 kilowatt hours amounted to 48 euros per month on a national average. In households in which water is also heated with electricity – for example with a flow heater – the costs rise again significantly.

The comparison platform Check24 published similar calculations a few days ago. There, the electricity cost gap is put at a slightly lower 136 euros per year, or just under 30 percent. “Since Hartz IV was introduced in 2005, the standard rate has increased gradually by around 30 percent,” Verivox said. “However, over the same period, electricity prices have risen by an average of 85 percent.” As long as the share of electricity costs in the standard rate does not rise to the same extent, service recipients would have to “cross-finance their energy needs through ever greater restrictions in other areas of life”.

“Electricity costs out of the standard rate!”

Charities have long criticized the electricity cost gap. “More and more people have to go into debt in order to be able to pay their energy bills,” said Caritas recently on the basis of a survey among its advice centers. “People in rural regions are affected in three ways by the increased prices,” said Caritas debt counselor Ralf Ritter. “They mostly drive old diesels, the apartments are heated with oil or gas and the high electricity bills come on top of that.”

The standard rates are simply too low, criticized Ulrich Schneider, chief executive of the Paritätischer Gesamtverband. “The paritätische has long been calling for electricity costs to be removed from the standard rate and covered in full with the housing costs! And those who receive housing benefit must not be forgotten either!”

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