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Germany

Error Delays Benefits Payments

Hundreds of thousands of job-seekers in Germany could face the first few days of the new year without any money after a computer glitch has led to delays in the payment of unemployment benefits, it emerged Friday. As the millions of unemployed people in Germany prepare for the already highly unpopular "Hartz IV" reforms, which come into effect on Jan. 1, the Federal Labor Agency, which is responsible for the assessment and payment of benefits, revealed that a "tragic error" meant that many of the first dole cheques of the new year would arrive a couple of days late. Around five percent of the close to three million long-term unemployed could have to wait one or two days before they receive their money because their bank account numbers were incorrectly filled in on the new claim forms, labor agency board member Heinrich Alt explained. In cases of hardship, the claimants concerned could go to their local labor office and receive a cash payout.

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