Rising poverty: 343,000 Germans on welfare benefits
A man kneels on the sidewalk begging for some money as a person holding full shopping bags walks past him in the eastern town of Dresden. (AFP Photo)
While German policymakers are boasting of an improving economy, the number of households needing government support is on the rise. Official figures show those requiring welfare in the country went up 3.3 percent to 343,000 at the end of 2012.
The latest figures show an increase from 332,000 Germans on subsistence payments in 2011, the German Federal statistics office said on Monday.The category of people on "public assistance" embraces those who can’t support themselves from their own resources or from benefits of other social institutions.
Germany is often seen as the European economic powerhouse, and at the forefront of the EU economic recovery between April and June of 2013. The country’s 0.7 percent expansion served as a key driver for the area’s 0.3 percent GDP increase – the first growth following 18 months of economic contraction.
Elderly Germans seem to be one of the hardest hit, as almost half a million retirees over 65 turned to local welfare offices for hand outs in 2012, Germany's federal statistics bureau reported. That marked a 6.6 percent increase on 2011, and almost double since 2003. However the DGB trade union federation said that the true number of impoverished elderly in Germany is twice as high, as many feel ashamed to apply for basic assistance to their local authorities.