Millions in Germany could face housing benefit delay
Low-income earners who are set to receive Wohngeld housing benefit may have to wait months for money after the government admitted planned reforms would overload administrative processes.
Flood of housing benefit applications will cause delay
Germany’s traffic-light coalition is currently in the process of a historic overhaul to the country’s social security system. From January 1, 2023 the government will expand its Wohngeld housing benefit scheme. 1,4 million people across Germany who are expected to start receiving Wohngeld will likely have their payments delayed due to an rush of applications.
Currently, 618.165 households in Germany receive Wohngeld payments every month. Benefit payments are calculated based on maximum income thresholds, which depend on the number of people in your household and your rent band (Mietstufe). As the government expands the household income eligibility threshold, the number of Wohngeld recipients is expected to increase to 2 million households.
Once the reforms are implemented at the beginning of 2023, employees of Germany’s local authorities, who say they are already overworked, will be tasked with millions of further applications to process. Speaking to Bild newspaper, an employee at the housing office in the Pankow district of Berlin said she expected the workload to triple in the new year.
Wohngeld to include heating subsidy payment
The government’s reforms will not just increase income thresholds but also restructure Wohngeld payments. The payments will soon include a permanent subsidy payment for heating costs. On average, Wohngeld monthly payments are also set to increase by an average of 190 euros. Once the rates increase, households in Germany that receive Wohngeld will be given an average of 370 euros per month to help with rent, mortgage and utility costs.
The coalition government’s plans have already passed through the Bundestag but still needs to be approved by the Bundesrat.