We want a welfare state which combinesjustice with freedom. Green social policy is therefore aimed at self-determination, participation and a dependable level of material security.
Strengthening social rights
Our social rights, enshrined in law, are increasingly being flouted in administrative procedures. This is apparent from the steady increase in proceedings before the social courts, half of which are decided in favour of the claimant. Whether it is about mediation on a work-related issue or access to social services: when the use of standardised, computer-based work processes degrades people to mere "cases", it is impossible to achieve effective or satisfactory solutions. This approach is completely inadequate as a means of dealing with the issues and must be replaced by comprehensive individual case management by trained professionals. In future, citizens who claim social benefits must have the right to choose. They should have a say in deciding which measures and types of assistance are appropriate for them. The proposals made by the person concerned must be given priority during the planning of assistance.
Poverty begins when children have few opportunities for education and development. Access to education, along with better care and support from early childhood onwards, is a justice issue. Our education road map therefore aims to boost investment in education, with more full-day schools and a more permeable education system.
Strengthening the capacities of lower earners
Work must be remunerated with a living wage. A minimum wage is essential in order to curb the growing trend towards wage dumping. However, the burdens on people on low incomes must be eased in other ways as well. Tax rates are lower for low earners, but there are no comparable rules on social insurance contribution rates. This is unfair and is a reason why low earners face a high risk of poverty. Our greenmodel, which works on a progressive sliding scale, is intended to provide a remedy. It reduces social contributions for lower incomes, the specific figure being 14 per cent for employers and employees on an income of 1,000 euros.
Adequate standard rates for adults and children
The standard rate for welfare benefits for adults under Hartz IV should in future be set at 420 euros. This figure is based on an independent evaluation by the German Non-Denominational Welfare Association (Paritätischer Wohlfahrtsverband) and must be regularly adjusted in a transparent procedure with the participation of the welfare associations. Children's needs should not be subsumed in the general benefits payable to families but should be determined separately. Here too, an increase in the standard rates is required. The standard rates for children and young people should be set at a level which covers their real developmental needs. In the long term, we want to introduce a children's basic income by merging marital and family benefits and targeting the children. Every child, regardless of their family background, should have a secure basic minimum income of their own.
More protection from debt
More and more people in Germany are caught in the debt trap. By expanding the provision of debt counselling services, we want to make it easier for them to opt for private insolvency and make a fresh financial start. When it comes to debt, however, prevention is better than cure – so we need tougher rules on lending and access to credit, for example. In order to make it easier to cope with over-indebtedness day to day, we want to introduce a right to a current account that operates on a credit balance basis only.