The self-employed pay back over 500 million euros in immediate corona aid
Stand: 00:07 | Reading time: 3 minutes
At the beginning there was no time for an examination: Millions of self-employed and small business owners received emergency aid from the state during the corona pandemic – some of them wrongly. Hundreds of millions of euros have now been repaid.
Dhe help should arrive quickly and unbureaucratically, back in March, at hairdressers, photographers or fitness trainers. Millions of self-employed people and small business owners no longer had any income from one day to the next because of the corona restrictions. The monthly expenses remained, for example for rent and insurance.
Often the money was in the account after just a few days. There was up to 9,000 euros for companies with up to five employees, and up to 15,000 euros for those with up to ten employees. These sums were made available by the federal government, most of the federal states added a little more – or even larger companies with more employees paid a five-figure state subsidy.
But not every self-employed person or small business owner could look forward to the windfall for long. Some of them soon suspected that they might have made themselves criminally liable for subsidy fraud because they had received too much money – or because they had no right from the start. In July, North Rhine-Westphalia was one of the first to remind recipients of emergency aid that “too much money paid out must be reimbursed to the state main treasury”.
The repayment amount will increase
By September 30, more than 560 million euros in emergency aid had already been returned, as a WELT AM SONNTAG survey among the federal states shows. In first place are North Rhine-Westphalia with 170 million euros, Berlin with 143 million euros and Bavaria with 107 million euros.
A total of 305 million flowed back into the federal pot alone, as Peter Altmaier’s (CDU) Federal Ministry of Economics announced when asked. 13.8 billion euros had been distributed from there by the end of September.
It is to be expected that the repayment amount will increase significantly. “The digital feedback process is expected to start at the end of October, in which the respective actual funding amount is finally determined,” said the North Rhine-Westphalia Ministry of Economics. After the response, the emergency aid recipients would then have until March 31 of the coming year to return the amounts that may have been overpaid.
Confusion at the beginning about conditions of help
Talks are still ongoing between the federal government and the federal states about the exact modalities of the return campaign. Recipients of emergency aid should be contacted again, and at least random checks are planned.
Although there are also cases of fraud, the vast majority of applicants are by no means accused of bad faith. On the one hand, there was irritation in the first few weeks about what exactly the funds could be used for – at least the federal emergency aid was only intended for business expenses such as office rent, but not for living expenses.
Above all, however, the actual financial requirements in the first few weeks of the corona restrictions could not be foreseen. The actual losses may then have been less. This also explains the voluntary repayments that have already been made.
This text is from WELT AM SONNTAG. We will be happy to deliver them to your home on a regular basis.