Refugees from the Ukraine will be entitled to Hartz IV and the associated job promotion from June.

Compared to their previous status, which provides for asylum seeker benefits, they also receive more money.

This is what the new decision by Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and the state prime ministers for dealing with the consequences of the Ukraine war envisages.

Dietrich Creutzburg

Business correspondent in Berlin.

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Measured against the monthly standard benefit, the difference for adult benefit recipients is 82 euros: the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act currently provides for cash benefits of 367 euros, in the Hartz IV system it is 449 euros.

The assumption of housing costs is added in each case - but with the difference that in the case of asylum seeker benefits there is no free choice of apartment.

Depending on the situation, the authorities can also accommodate recipients in collective accommodation.

Ukrainians who are quartered there for the time being can therefore look for a suitable apartment themselves from June onwards, which the job center will then pay for.

Scholz described Thursday evening's agreement as "logical".

The Federal Employment Agency had previously advised Ukrainians to have access to Hartz IV.

There are "some indications that performance and advice come from a single source, namely from the people in the job centers," says board member Daniel Terzenbach.

With clear structures, people can be better “helped quickly and sustainably.”

Previous special status leads to inequalities

The debate also arose because people from Ukraine have a special status under immigration law that had never been applied before.

This is based on the EU "Mass Influx Directive", which has now been activated for the first time.

Unlike asylum seekers from other countries, Ukrainians do not have to apply for asylum on this basis, but immediately receive a residence permit that also allows them to work.

In terms of social law, however, this is still linked to asylum seeker benefits according to the current legal situation.

This has now led to inequalities that are difficult to justify: while Syrians have access to Hartz IV after a positive asylum decision, Ukrainians would have been denied this because they do not go through an asylum procedure and therefore do not receive a positive decision.

The decision therefore reads: "Refugees from the Ukraine in need of help will in future be given financial support in the same way as recognized asylum seekers in need."

At the same time, this is a financial advantage for the federal states: they are responsible together with the municipalities for benefits for asylum seekers, while the federal government is largely responsible for Hartz IV – although the municipalities are also financially involved there.

There is therefore no prospect of direct relief for them from this project.

They should now receive an additional 500 million euros directly from the federal government for 2022.

The German district association called it "understandable" to switch to Hartz IV on June 1st.

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