Germany’s targets on the fight against poverty are set too low

[27. 4. 2011] The Association of German Family Organisations (AGF) e.V. criticizes the German National Reform Programme for setting insufficient targets and demands adequate and serious measures against poverty and social exclusion from the Federal Government.

The National Reform Programme (NRP 2011), which the federal cabinet adopted on the 6th of April, names the national contribution to the new EU strategy Europe 2020. Herein, the German Government i.a. defines, how the European objectives are to be implemented. Unfortunately, it largely ignores the positive signals that were sent by the European Union by giving a concrete goal on the fight against poverty for the first time.

“The plans, the Government wants to counter poverty and social exclusion with are dissapointing. The Governments calculations on poverty are ludicrous and the targets are set far too low”, states AGF’s chairwoman Bettina Müller-Sidibé.

The Federal Government decided to focus on the official indicator of “People living in households with very low work intensity” and reduces it to “long-term unemployment” (longer than 12 months without a job). The Government’s goal is then to scale the number of long-term unemployed down by 330 000 people (which equals a decline by 20% in comparison to 2008). Since the people are calculated according to households and statistically, two people live together in one household, 660 000 people would finally be lifted out of poverty. Thus, it would be sufficient to place a person in work for merely one hour a week, to remove two people from the poverty statistics.

If the German Government was interested in making a significant contribution to achieving Europe’s objectives, it would have to lift about 2.6 Million people out of poverty and social exclusion. Moreover, it disregards important aspects of poverty, that particularly affect families. Child poverty does not only occur due to unemployment, but rather to marginal employment, part-time work (especially for women), jobs with a very low income and other difficult working conditions especially for lone-parent-families, migrant families and families with more than two children. These families are completely removed from the Government’s scope.

“The Governement has built a creative construct – it would have been better if it was constructive”, criticises Müller-Sidibé. “We call on the Government to present a conscientious catalogue of measures, that embraces all relevant policy areas and contributes substantially to the European overall goal.”

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