Germany: Welfare claims from asylum seekers drop sharply
Germany has seen a 12% drop in claims by asylum seekers for government aid, according to data from the Federal Statistics Office (Destatis) published on Friday.
The agency said 411,000 people were claiming asylum seekers’ benefits at the end of 2018.
The fall can be attributed to fewer asylum claims and the higher number of completed or decided cases, Destatis said.
Under the 1993 Asylum Seekers’ Benefits Act, those seeking refuge from conflict and oppression in their home countries are entitled to claim welfare when they apply for asylum in Germany.
The benefit is currently set at €354 ($393) per month per single adult, two-thirds (€219) of which is for food, rent, clothing, health and personal items. The remaining one third (€135) is “pocket money.”
Asylum claims falling
According to separate government figures, 185,853 asylum applications were lodged last year, a 16% drop from the previous year.
Of those claims, around 161,931 came from first-time applicants, while just under 24,000 were follow-up requests.
Germany’s civil service has struggled to clear a backlog of asylum applications that arose during the 2015/16 European migrant crisis.
In 2016, Germany saw a peak of 722,370 asylum applications being lodged from the more than a million migrants who arrived in the country during that period.
Friday’s data from Destatis also revealed that the number of all residents receiving welfare payments at the end of last year dropped 9.2%, to roughly 7.2 million people — or 8.7% of Germany’s population.
It was the third year in a row that the number of recipients as a percentage of the population has declined.
The majority, some 5.6 million people, were receiving Hartz IV benefits — paid to the unemployed, underemployed and disabled. That number fell 5.7% from the year before.
Basic social security payments given due to old age and incapacity grew 1.9% last year to 1.1 million.
mm/rt (dpa, EPD)