The German government has approved the introduction of new benefits for parents. The plans are going ahead after months of bitter wrangling in Chancellor Merkel’s coalition government.
Parents in Germany who opt to care for very young children at home rather than sending them to a state-sponsored nursery will receive 100 euros ($125) a month from next January.
The introduction of the benefit for parents of under-three-year-olds was a demand pushed by Angela Merkel's conservative coalition partner, the Bavarian CSU. It had been opposed by the junior coalition partner, the liberal FDP, which gave in on Wednesday.
The plans have also met with criticism from opposition quarters.
Critics fear they will encourage young women in Germany to stay at home rather than pursuing careers and earning an income.
"We're rolling backwards here," Manuela Schwesig, a Social Democrat Party (SPD) deputy chief said.
Cem Özdemir of the Green party said the government was ignoring public opinion, which was overwhelmingly against the introduction of the new benefit.
Family Minister Kristina Schröder, however, countered fears that the new benefit would be too much of a burden for state coffers. She put the price tag for the new benefit at 400 million euros for next year.
Now the opposition SPD wants to prevent implementation of the payment scheme in the Bundesrat, the upper house of parliament, or in the federal constitutional court.
rg/ncy (AFP, dpa)