Factbox-Germany's welfare reform plan

© Reuters.

BERLIN (Reuters) – German lawmakers have agreed a welfare reform to raise unemployment benefit payments and help train people who are out of work, with a view to addressing a skills shortage in Europe’s largest economy. The reform is less ambitious than a landmark measure originally planned by the left-leaning government, which the conservative opposition blocked it in the upper house last week. Below are some key points on the revised Buergergeld, or “citizens’ money”, which will replace the Hartz IV system introduced from 2005. * The reform provides for a significant increase in monthly benefit payments. In future, a single adult will receive 502 euros ($522.63) per month for living expenses, a rise of 53 euros. The standard rates for couples and children will also increase * The reform is intended to facilitate the placement of the unemployed in the labour market, among other things through more qualification and further training * Unemployed participants in vocational training will receive additional 150 euros per month * A subsidised vocational training course can be taken for up to three years, if required, instead of in two years as before * A change to the original plan sees the removal of a so-called “trust period” of six months, during which job seekers would have received full payments even if they failed to appear at appointments. This will now be dropped * Under the compromise, a planned waiting period of two years, during which housing costs would be covered without further review, will be reduced to one year ($1 = 0.9605 euros)