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Welfare Application Forms Attract Hefty Criticism

Germany's federal commissioner for data protection, Peter Schaar, has added his voice to the chorus of criticism directed at the new application procedure for social welfare and unemployment aid under the Hartz IV labor reforms. Schaar was especially critical of the application form's income declaration, which he said is not compatible with confidentiality laws. The application form would allow employers to be privy to protected data about employees' family members, he added. The 16-page forms for the new, consolidated welfare support are being mailed to more than two million people this week, who will have to fill out information about their income, savings, and living arrangements. Federal Economics Minister Wolfgang Clement praised the new forms for being less bureaucratic than any of the forms welfare recipients have previously had to fill out. "It'll only take half an hour to 45 minutes," Clement said, adding: "Anyone who's having difficulties should give me a call!"