Hesse: Price increases endanger social institutions

The exploding costs pose existential problems for social institutions in Hesse.

Hesse: Price increases endanger social institutions

The exploding costs pose existential problems for social institutions in Hesse. They warn of a system collapse and demand quick help.

Kassel/Frankfurt (dpa/lhe) - A warm room, a cheap meal, access to sanitary facilities - homeless people who come to the Panama day-care center in Kassel are provided with the essentials there. The services offered by the Kassel Social Aid Association are financed primarily through donations. In times of rising energy and food costs, the grants are more necessary, but at the same time scarcer than ever. "Due to their own financial situation, long-term donors can no longer support us," reports the fundraiser and spokeswoman for the association, Anja Krätke.

Food donations, for example from the canteens of surrounding companies, would also decrease. "That brings us to our capacity limits," says Krätke. The emergency sleeping places, with which the association offers the homeless a protective place to stay in winter, also have to be financed. "I'm already dreading the energy costs," says Panama Director Amrei Tripp.

A large part of the non-profit social institutions and services in Hesse are in the same situation as the social welfare organization in Kassel. According to a survey by the Paritätischer Wohlfahrtsverband, 89 percent of the 209 organizations surveyed in the federal state see their existence threatened by the cost explosion. 42 percent of them state that they manage to continue their offers for a maximum of one year without help. "The situation is very worrying and will only get worse," says country manager Yasmin Alinaghi. She warns of a wave of bankruptcies.

The parity therefore calls for a comprehensive protective shield for social institutions and services. The association assumes that a double-digit billion amount is necessary nationwide - in Hesse alone, a rough estimate is a single-digit billion amount. The federal, state and local governments would have to create reliable and financially adequate security as quickly as possible.

The Hessian Ministry of Social Affairs refers to the agreement of the state parliamentary groups of CDU, Greens, SPD and FDP on key points for a 200 million euro state aid program. "Support for social institutions is part of this state program - but as a result only part of the total volume of 200 million euros is earmarked for it," says a spokesman.

That is a glimmer of hope, says Frédéric Lauscher, chairman of the Frankfurt Association for the Care of the Elderly and the Disabled. "But experience shows that you have to wait and see what really matters in the end." Lauscher reports on multiple problems in nursing. "We have extreme stress and exhaustion on employees at all levels due to the corona pandemic, high levels of absenteeism and a shortage of workers." The cost increases could be the last straw. "We are in danger of the system collapsing," he warns.

"If there is no quick help, I see black, especially for facilities that do not have standard care, but live solely on grants." There was a risk of a limited offer and the undersupply of people in need of care. "That would mean brutal cuts that our society can't actually afford," emphasizes Lauscher.

Matz Mattern, state manager of the Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund (ASB) Hessen, also calls for quick help. "Increasing energy and food costs are affecting all of our service areas here in Hesse, whether it's nursing, emergency services, kindergarten or other social services," he says. They hit social organizations like the ASB with full force.

Passing the price increases on to customers is extremely difficult. In nursing, for example, if the benefits of nursing care insurance are not adjusted at the same time, this could mean that fewer services are used than are actually needed. The problem arises above all with the already poorer customers. "It's about an intensification of social inequality," says Mattern.

With the so-called Meals on Wheels, it is already noticeable that some senior citizens can no longer pay. The increase in costs will also make itself felt in catering in daycare centers and schools. Mattern emphasizes that ASB will do everything in its power to maintain its offer. "But the partial lack of refinancing and the significant cost increases make it more difficult."

Marion Lusar from the FeM girls’ house in Frankfurt is also sounding the alarm. She fears an eightfold increase in electricity costs and a doubling of gas costs. In addition to counseling centers and meeting rooms, the facility also offers sheltered apartments for girls affected by violence. The first rent increase for a property has already fluttered into the house, reports Lusar. "I'm very worried about the lack of prospects." The refinancing is unclear, the willingness to donate has decreased significantly. "In the worst case, we have to limit our supply and cut jobs."

Concerns that also concern Gabi Becker from the Integrative Drug Aid Association in Frankfurt. In addition to higher personnel and material costs, she expects 300 percent more gas and energy costs. "With a budget of a good 8.5 million euros, we will probably have a shortfall of 1.2 million euros." This makes it clear that the association, whose offers are used by around 5,000 people, according to Becker, must cut them by 15 to 20 percent. "Solutions are urgently needed. There is no time," warns Becker. The drama of the situation is not recognized at the political level. "It will change society forever if the existing social system collapses," she warns.

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