One year of basic solidarity income in Berlin

Berlin (dpa / bb) – Ulrike Gehn looks satisfied. The 33-year-old has been working for a year for the small Berlin-based Kopf company, Hand + Fuß gGmbH, which advises companies on inclusion issues and manages a shared coworking space for people with and without disabilities.

Gehn organizes meetings and workshops, introduces employers to the topic of inclusion, raises funds for new projects through donation campaigns. She coordinates with her team during videoconferences, but also regularly exchanges the head office of her office.

Its particularity is that walking is one of the first to find a job within the framework of a model project unique in Germany, the Basic Solidarity Income (SBU). A year ago, on August 2, 2019, the severely disabled office communication clerk in a wheelchair signed her employment contract – after two years of unemployment. “I really like it,” she says of her state-paid job. And best of all: “My job is safe even during the Corona crisis.”

The mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller (SPD), is seen as the initiator of the SBU, which also sees the approach as a possible alternative to Hartz IV. Its basic idea seems simple: “Create work instead of managing unemployment”. Nonetheless, enthusiasm was limited even within the SPD, which is still controversial over Hartz IV. Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) refused to grant financial support to the federal government. Müller’s party friend and the employment agency prefer to focus on wage subsidies for companies that hire long-term unemployed.

The country alone finances 1,000 social security positions in the voluntary sector for five years, or about 170 million euros in hand. About half of the positions have now been found. According to the Senate Labor Administration, 12 employees received notice for various reasons. Two SBU participants have already switched to an unsupported activity, including a babysitter.

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The employees of the model project work as daycare or school assistants, support the homeless, help people with low knowledge of German in their dealings with the authorities, are involved in environmental education, for companies transport or in municipal housing associations. The start was delayed, also by Corona. However, the Senate is sticking to its goal of filling 1,000 positions by the end of the year. All employees are paid at rate or minimum wage. And: You should have a perspective on permanent work.

No one can say if it will be successful after a year. Müller speaks of “long-term prospects” for reintegrating people into the primary labor market. But he sees the first successes. So be positive, “if someone has more self-esteem and says that I am valued for my job, I don’t have to apply for a Hartz IV and I don’t have to take a one euro job. , but I have a regular job subject to social security contributions and I can do more with it. “

Ulrike Gehn confirms this. “I can get involved, support others,” said the 33-year-old. “I have a structure again during the day, I know more exactly where my limits are, I know my rights and my obligations better than before. All of this gives me more security and self-confidence.” Of course, the exchange with colleagues is also a good thing, in addition to the help integrated into the project by special coaches. “For me, the SBU came at the right time.”

Gehns boss Stefanie Trecinski, Kopf managing director Hand + Fuß gGmbh, also rated the SBU positively. “We get two jobs funded by the project and we are extremely happy. Here, people in a protected environment have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with them and then become full employees. For employers, the SBU is simple, the bureaucracy and reporting manageable.

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The same goes for the Berlin-Mitte Housing Association (WBM), which has hired seven SBU participants to help the caretakers, six of whom are still on board. “We innovated by participating in this project and had good experiences,” says Christina Geib from the management. The participants had proven themselves. The WBM sees a prospect to continue to employ them outside of the program.

According to Berlin Labor Senator Elke Breitenbach (left), the SBU has “developed very good momentum”. And she sees new opportunities in the wake of the pandemic: “If we now enter a recession, basic solidarity income could reach even more and completely different people.” An evaluation is therefore planned. “Then we will decide whether to expand it and whether to expand the beneficiary group.”

The opposition in Berlin sees it quite differently. “The basic solidarity income is not a useful model because it does not help people in the long term,” said Alexander Wieberneit, FDP parliamentary spokesperson for the labor market. “It would be important to give the long-term unemployed the opportunity to prepare for the first job market instead of pushing them aside with replacement jobs.”

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