Mayor Michael Müller say Berlin’s basic income experiment is working

Berlin’s pilot project is one-of-a-kind in Germany and seems to be getting people back into stable jobs.

How do you write 'hizzonner' auf Deutsch?
How do you write 'hizzonner' auf Deutsch?Photo: Davids

Berlin - It’s not exactly universal basic income (UBI) – you have to participate in a job scheme to get it – but one year after Berlin launched what it calls a UBI pilot project, Berlin Mayor Michael Müller (SPD) says the programme is showing positive results.

So far, 543 unemployed people have found a new job with full social benefits that should offer them long-term career prospects, Müller said Thursday at a podium discussion in the Rotes Rathaus (city hall). He said the results underscore his decision to launch the programme despite receiving virtually no support from the federal government.

“We were convinced that we had a good, correct idea,” which has been confirmed by the interim results a year into the pilot, the mayor said.

The project, which was launched last August, is designed for up to 1,000 participants and costs Berlin €35m per year. The idea is to pay unemployed people minimum wage or union rates to work in the non-profit sector for up to five years, instead of letting them become Hartz IV welfare recipients. Workers in the programme are eventually supposed to be offered permanent positions.

“A lot of people need work, want to work, can work,” Müller said. “And they want meaningful employment and don’t want to be bounced from one short-term labour market scheme to the next.”

It’s not just about earning money, he said, but also about self-affirmation and having a place in society – this became even more important during the corona crisis as more and more people lost work. The pilot project, which still has openings for around 450, supports other labour market policies, Müller said.