Case numbers bring the Social Welfare Office in Bad Segeberg to a breaking point

Bad Siegberg. This comparison has it all: “The current situation is worse than it was during the refugee crisis in 2015,” says Bad Siegberg Mayor Tony Koppen. At that time, the pressure on the public administration extended over three years. “We are now under much more pressure than we were at the time.” The reason is the war in Ukraine, where more and more people come to Germany; Linked to the energy crisis, which also affects many local residents severely.

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By “we”, the mayor means above all his office for social affairs, where many consequences converge. Its boss, Stefan Hartung, urgently warned during the last meeting of the Social Committee that the expected number of cases would exceed the stress threshold for his staff.

Given the continuous rise in oil, gas and electricity prices, the situation is getting worse. According to Hartung, people with low incomes or an insufficient pension will increasingly seek to call the office in the future as energy deductions increase in order to report their need for help. The result is that, on the other hand, cases of purely informational, as well as requests in the field of housing benefit or basic security, are increasing in old age.

Public concerns are growing

Residents’ fears increased significantly, Hartung described. Many do not know how to pay the high utility bills. One of the biggest fears is losing your home because of it. This will especially affect families with young children and the elderly. “And who wants to be in charge when they sit in cold apartments in winter?” asked the head of the department.

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Since electricity costs are included in the standard rate, the recipients of assistance are also responsible for making the additional payments themselves. “They can only apply for a loan to take over.” If approved, this in turn means that those involved will have less money available for several months.

Inflation has worsened the situation in Bad Segeberg

The situation was exacerbated by high inflation rates. “Low-income people and everyone who depends on state aid can do little to counteract the massive increase in prices,” says the head of the office. Therefore many fear for their livelihood and do not know how to earn their livelihood.

The Ukraine war is not only the cause of the energy crisis, but also the cause of the refugee influx. This will be the first thing that municipalities will have to deal with. “Experience has shown that people only get a mock certificate after weeks or months, so temporary support under the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act is essential.” As a result, the number of children entitled to education and participation benefits is increasing.

Housing benefit cases in Bad Siegburg are increasing

With the receipt of the said certificate, the number of basic insurance beneficiaries in old age and those with reduced earning capacity increases. An additional burden on the employees in his office also arises from the fact that those who work and therefore no longer receive unemployment benefit II may be entitled to housing benefit, depending on their income. “An increase in cases related to the first wave of refugees has already been recorded from 2015/2016, so that an increase can also be expected in connection with the Ukraine war.”

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According to the head of the office Stefan Hartung, the Social Welfare Office in Bad Siegberg is failing

According to Hartung, 44 families currently receive asylum benefits under the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act and 49 families are from Ukraine. As of September, 265 families received housing benefit, 152 families received basic old-age security and 141 basic security due to permanent disability. – a subsistence allowance is paid to 38 families; 266 families will get education and participation, 243 discounts in kindergarten. “There have been 103 advisory sessions on entitlement to benefits so far this year.”

Relief packs provide extra work

With the third relief package, the housing benefit reform was announced on January 1, 2023, Hartung continued. It should include the cost of heating and air conditioning component. The goal of the reform is to widen the circle of those eligible for housing benefit. In addition, there will be a short-term subsidy for citizens by paying the heating cost subsidy from September to December 2022. More relief packages are being planned. All this leads to a significant increase in the workload of the department.

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Language barriers and descriptions of general operations for refugees from Ukraine also meant a more time-consuming processing, which is difficult to do with the increasing number of cases with existing staff in the social department. “Another additional effort is emerging in taking care of additional rental housing for refugees and displaced persons,” Hartung said.

The land capacity of Lifu Park will be increased

Mayor Tony Coppen spoke about a meeting with Social Affairs Minister Aminata Touré. “Everyone involved understands that we also have to prepare for an increase in homelessness.” notice. “Bad Segeberg still has 26 emergency spots,” Coppen said. Municipalities have always been on the edge of their potential.

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