The political discussions about a basic pension as an instrument against poverty in old age are gaining momentum. Even before the Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Hubertus Heil, presented a draft law, the four opposition parties each presented their own basic pension concepts to the Bundestag. On Monday, experts were heard in the Bundestag Committee for Labour and Social Affairs, including Frank Nullmeier of the Collaborative Research Centre Global Dynamics of Social Policy.
The central topic of the hearings was whether poverty should be tackled within the statutory pension insurance system or in the area of basic income support. The latter had been proposed by the AfD and the FDP. A major objection to this was that this would extend the basic pension to more and more pensioners, so that a kind of 'combined pension' would be created from the basic pension and contribution-based pension - with negative consequences for the legitimacy and acceptance of the statutory pension insurance. Because: "In the basic security system, the principle of needs-based justice applies; in the social security system, a principle of entitlement to benefits applies", said Nullmeier. "We must separate the two from each other and not mix the legal entitlements. Mixing them up is a great danger - for social cohesion and the legimitation basis of the statutory pension insurance system. The legimitation of the statutory pension insurance would be endangered if long-standing contributors were not "free from the proximity to poverty in old age and to receiving basic income support", said Nullmeier. This problem must be addressed and this would not be achieved by a combined solution, but only by improving the statutory pension insurance system. "If the labour market creates wages that are too low, you can either change the wage system - the minimum wage provides for this - or you have to create systems that are part of the statutory pension insurance system and follow the tradition of pension according to minimum income and pension according to minimum wage credits (Mindestentgeltpunkten)".
The hearing also made clear that an organisational link between basic income and pension would only lead to double bureaucracies and would not allow administrative relief. Against these solutions stood models of raising the incomes of all pensioners to a level above the poverty risk threshold through a new, comfortable form of basic security with correspondingly high financial burdens (Die Linke) and a solution purely within the pension insurance system through an increase in the pensions of all insured persons with more than 30 years of insurance contributions to a pension corresponding to 30 wage credits (Bündnis90/Die Grünen). This would eliminate the need for a basic pension.
The Deutsche Bundestags shares May 6th hearing at the Bundestag Committee for Labour and Social Affairs as a video stream (in German only).
Prof. Dr. Frank Nullmeier
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Phone: +49 421 218-58576