German Town Docks Beggars' Welfare Checks

National outcry forces officials to refund panhandlers' money
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 2, 2009 7:17 PM CDT
German law prohibits recipients of social welfare, as opposed to those who qualify for unemployment insurance payments, from supplementing their income.   (Shutter Stock)
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(Newser) – Beggars can’t be choosers, and in Germany, they also have trouble being charity cases. One unemployed welfare recipient in the college town of Göttingen learned that lesson last week after officials discovered he was panhandling and threatened to yank $161 out of his monthly $470 welfare payment. The reason: German law forbids welfare recipients from receiving supplemental income, Der Spiegel reports.

After the man complained, officials lowered the penalty to $67, but nationwide scorn still followed. “Society has never gone this low before,” said one prominent philanthropist, while a social services spokesman said that collectors had “entirely overreacted.” Göttingen’s mayor, who acknowledged “two or three other cases,” has ordered a full restoration of payments to all affected.