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Ukrainian Family Wrongfully Draws Tens of Thousands of Euros in Benefits from Germany While Living at Home

A Ukrainian family drew forty thousand euros in support from Germany last year, despite living in their home country.
The local employment office disbursed roughly 3,200 euros per month to the family for citizen support, rent, and heating cost assistance. Despite the high demand for daycare spaces by locals, the four-member family quickly obtained accommodation and a daycare spot. This highlights a broader issue often faced by Germans in accessing sufficient daycare facilities, as noted by the V4NA international news agency.

When it became apparent that the conflict in their homeland was extending, the family returned to their home in Western Ukraine at the beginning of 2023. They came back to Schleswig-Holstein in the winter, pocketing money from German taxpayers during the time they spent at home. Their ruse was uncovered when the family's eldest child needed a school place upon their return in the winter.

The Federal Employment Agency confirmed to Focus magazine that exploiting the welfare system in such a manner is indeed possible. Although Ukrainian refugees are legally equivalent to German citizens regarding these matters, the checks and balances in place do not fully apply.

Legally, one can only receive such citizen assistance if their assets do not exceed forty thousand euros. While this is relatively straightforward to verify for German citizens, Ukrainians are subject to a self-reporting system. Authorities only have the information that Ukrainians disclose, explained Steffi Ebert, head of the employment center in Schmalkalden-Meiningen, Thuringia, to Focus.

However, for the Western Ukrainian family's case, it wasn't so much the lack of asset checking that led to unnecessary payments. Instead, there was a lack of communication between state institutions. The employment office was not aware that the boy was no longer attending daycare.

Such controls are not exceptional, as authorities routinely conduct them. However, since the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian war, the influx of people into Germany has been so substantial that offices and authorities are often overwhelmed resulting in individuals exploiting the system to receive considerable sums of money which, in reality, are taken from the pockets of German taxpayers.

As of November, approximately 700,000 Ukrainian refugees received citizen assistance in Germany, with the majority unemployed. At that time, about 19 percent of the Ukrainians had found employment.

The situation is "disconcerting," stated Matthias Jendricke, the district administrator of Nordhausen in Thuringia.

The Social Democrat politician thought it would be easier to integrate Ukrainians into the job market than other refugees.

In the weeks following the Russian attack, he even arranged for buses from Berlin to his county, urgently needing labor.

However, "things went completely in the wrong direction," as only a fraction of the refugees wanted to engage in the world of work.

Joachim Walter, a Christian Democratic politician and district administrator in Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg, shares a similar view.

"The willingness of Ukrainian refugees to enter into employment has significantly decreased because of the assistance they receive," Walter stated.
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