Only a few months after Berlin’s new conservative-led government took power, the CDU are wasting no time in enacting brutal austerity on the city’s most vulnerable residents. The district of Neukölln was the first to announce the impact of their slashed budget for 2024 and 2025, with a 22.8 million euro deficit. Its administration said it was left with no choice but to cut children’s, homeless and addiction services.
The cuts in full:
- Three youth and family facilities are set to close
- Reduced services for homeless people
- Addiction outreach programmes will be shut down
- Water playgrounds will be closed
- Broken playground equipment will not be replaced
- Waste disposal in parks and green spaces will be halved
- Trips for children from low-income families will no longer be funded
- The Alt-Rixdorf Christmas market will be canceled
- Neukölln schools will have a reduced cleaning schedule
- Twelve schools will lose their security guard
- Vacant positions in the district government will not be filled
Home to some of the most densely populated neighborhoods in Germany, and with a population of over 300,000, Neukölln is the size of a medium-sized city. It is also the most diverse area of Berlin with 40% of inhabitants having a migration background.
Many have questioned the pointedness of this first round of cuts. The CDU came to power off the back of a racist and stigmatizing election campaign, which spread unfounded fears of youth crime and antisocial behavior in Neukölln. It is perhaps not a coincidence that the district’s young people are the first to be targeted with austerity measures. While the Berlin government has not directly mandated the targeting of these groups, the structure of district budget allocations means it is inevitable that budget cuts will hit children and vulnerable people first and hardest.
The SPD Mayor of Neukölln Martin Hikel has made clear his strong opposition to the austerity measures. However, his own party continues to support the CDU after choosing to form a coalition with the right rather than continue its alliance with die Linke and Green parties, which retained enough seats to form a majority. Other district mayors have also expressed concern, appealing to the Berlin government to rethink this constellation.