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Global Economy

Inflation in Germany: boards call for structural measures against poverty

Corona pandemic, war in Ukraine, increased food prices and energy costs: In Germany too, more and more people have to keep a close eye on their expenses – for months, food banks have been complaining that the demand for their free or very cheap help is increasing. Some panels report that they have had to turn people away.

The problem is likely to get worse as the inflation rate has been climbing sharply since February. In May it was 7.9 percent – the highest level in almost 50 years. Going to the supermarket becomes a problem for many. She thinks carefully about whether she really needs a product now or not, or whether she's waiting for a discount campaign, says Léonie, who shops in a Netto store in Bernau near Berlin.

At the Bernauer Tafel, customers like Gabriele Washah get the essentials. According to the pensioner, she bought bread. Because that now costs more than two euros. And butter. In normal trade, even the sausage has become too expensive. "It used to cost 99 cents and now it costs over two euros. Sometimes I go home from the store and I'm almost crying because I can't afford it anymore."

There are simply too many things that have become more expensive, according to Tafel customer Peter Behme. "You can feel it in your wallet."

Food banks also have to raise prices

But it's not just shopping in the supermarket that's becoming more expensive. The food banks also have to raise their prices – albeit low – because of the high energy costs. According to its own statements, the Bernauer Tafel demands 20 to 50 percent more for some products. The panels, which operate solely through volunteers, are urging the government to take action. For example, like in France, the supermarket chains are obliged to give surplus food to the food banks, according to Norbert Weich, head of the Bernauer Tafel. The panels are calling for a law against food waste.

Minimum wage increase is coming – dispute with Hartz IV is indicated

The traffic light coalition in Berlin has so far decided on two relief packages for citizens with instruments such as a flat-rate energy price for all employed persons, a one-off payment for social welfare recipients, the 9-euro ticket and the fuel discount. Food banks and charities are calling for fundamental steps such as raising the minimum wage and unemployment benefits, and taking action against precarious jobs.

The increase in the minimum wage to 12 euros per hour is to come in the autumn. The Bundestag recently decided this. The gross minimum wage is currently EUR 9.82. On July 1, it will rise to EUR 10.45 per hour, and then on October 1 to EUR 12 per hour.

In addition, the government wants to decide on further relief before the summer break. There could be a dispute over the debt brake and increasing the Hartz IV rate. In contrast to the Greens and SPD, the FDP insists on a return to a balanced budget and is against increasing the Hartz IV rates.

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