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RWI Projektberichte


Roland Döhrn, Hermann Rappen, Michael Klein, Mareike Fiebig

Gestaltungsspielräume der Kommunen und Länder bei sozialen Aufgaben und Ausgaben: Analyse und Ansätze zur Stärkung der Eigenverantwortung

Endbericht zum Forschungsvorhaben fe 3/17 des Bundesministeriums der Finanzen
Dezember 2018

Because of their proximity to recipients, local authorities can use social benefits more effectively than the federal government and the federal states. In addition, competition among local authorities may facilitate innovative approaches, which may serve as a blueprint for other municipalities. However, these advantages only arise if municipalities have sufficient room for manoeuvre to influence the way and the extent at which social benefits are transferred to the recipients. The latter is rather low in the case of conditional services (e.g. the minimum social security benefit systems), especially if their utilisation depends above all on the socio-economic conditions. The entitlement conditions and the local socio-economic situation can at best be influenced indirectly on a local level. The scope for action is likely to be greater in the case of purpose-programmed social benefits, e.g. youth welfare services. In this context, the form the benefits are provided (payments in cash and kind, services) are decisive for the municipal influence on the costs. In this study, four social benefits are considered in particular: Costs of accommodation for households eligible for social assistance, help for care, youth welfare, and assistance for integrating disabled persons. For analytical reasons, total expenditure is split up into the density of use (cases in percent of the relevant population group) and the costs per case. The analysis finds significant differences with regard to these figures between federal states, but also between municipalities located in the same state. However, the communal influence is limited by the interaction of institutional and socio-economic framework conditions. Concerning costs of accommodation, a considerable part of the observed disparities can be explained by diverging regional rent levels and the structure of local communities. Thus, the municipalities have basically two control approaches: Firstly, checking the appropriateness of the accommodation and the compliance with the regulations; secondly by helping to overcome the need for assistance completely or at least to some extent. Since cost of accommodation are paid additionally to unemployment benefit, measures to improve integration into the labour market work in this direction. The expenditure for help for care is essentially determined by the age structure of the population, since the nursing care risk increases in particular after the age of 65. Furthermore, public spending depends on the nursing care costs, the share of costs borne by the nursing care insurance; and the income situation of the per sons needing care. Despite socio-economic factors influencing the costs considerably, significant differences in costs per case between municipalities with comparable socio-economic conditions hint at room for manoeuvre. With regard to youth welfare, regional disparities are to a large extant determined by demographic factors. Main recipients are young persons between 6 to 14-years, whereas persons between 14 to 18-years-generarte the highest costs per case. Furthermore, expenditure on youth welfare closely linked to other benefits: In 2016, 50 per cent of the families eligible for youth welfare also received minimum social security benefits. Nonetheless, there is scope for municipal action because the legal concept of suitable and necessary assistance is diffuse. Cost reduction potentials arise above all from preventive and low-threshold measures such as social space work, from the expansion of services and from the detailed review of the existence of the prerequisites for entitlement. In the area of integration assistance for disabled person, regional disparities in costs per case are reflect to a large extent differences in the cost of living, in wages and salaries as well as in the general level of prosperity. In addition, however, the success in integrating disabled people into the labour market and the types and structures of services selected (e.g. outpatient or inpatient, quality of aid planning) also play an important part. These factors that can be influenced by the municipalities. Since integration assistance is often obtained on a long-term basis, the earlier control approaches take effect, the greater is the fiscal leverage.