Divide between rich andpoor in Germany widens

2nd March 2005, Comments 0 comments

2 March 2005, BERLIN - A team of government-appointed researchers warned the German cabinet on Wednesday that poverty was worse today than when Social Democrats and Greens came to power in Berlin in 1998. The figures showed 13.5 percent of Germans live below the poverty line, defined in the European Union as 60 percent of the average household income of neighbours and other comparable groups. Seven years ago the figure was 12.1 percent, following decades of levelling policies that taxed the rich and handed

2 March 2005

BERLIN - A team of government-appointed researchers warned the German cabinet on Wednesday that poverty was worse today than when Social Democrats and Greens came to power in Berlin in 1998.

The figures showed 13.5 percent of Germans live below the poverty line, defined in the European Union as 60 percent of the average household income of neighbours and other comparable groups.

Seven years ago the figure was 12.1 percent, following decades of levelling policies that taxed the rich and handed out generous benefits to the workless and sick. Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's government has cut upper-bracket tax rates to stimulate investment.

The report, presented to cabinet by Social Welfare Minister Ulla Schmidt, stressed that unemployment was the main cause of poverty, but also pointed to solo parents and others at high risk.

The data was compiled before a major reshaping of German welfare, the so-called Hartz IV reforms, took effect 1 January. The reforms reduced government spending by means-testing welfare beneficiaries.

The government ordered the poverty inquiry, its second, because non-homeless poor people are often overlooked. While cheap clothes and food are available, the poor have little left to set aside for old age.

Norbert Roettgen, parliamentary whip of the opposition Christian Democrats, said the report demonstrated the centre-left's failure and called for a drive to create more work rather than more welfare. He said cutting corporate taxation would do more good than handouts.

Germany's main parties all favour public spending cuts, with only leftists advocating more income support for the poor.

On Tuesday, UNICEF released a study that estimated 1.5 million children in Germany, or one in 10, were growing up in poverty, defined as half the average national household income. It said immigrant children and those of solo parents were at most risk.

DPA

Subject: German news

 

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