#243: Ch-ch-changes, record heat in '23, BVG won't get better
Pedestrian deaths up, slightly
Dear 20 Percent,
Kind, loyal readers, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for helping us grow 20% Berlin. We now have upwards of 8,600 subscribers and keep growing steadily. Without you, we would be nothing! So please keep spreading the word!
To end the year, here’s a smattering of changes we can expect from January:
Worse-yet-more-expensive-service: BVG raises prices an average 6.7% (AB €3.50 from €3.20)
Tax-free income allowance rises to €11,784.
Tax-free child allowance goes up to €6,612 per rug-rat.
Minimum hourly wage rises to €12.41 (from €12).
Bürgergeld benefits (formerly known as Hartz IV) go up. Singles will receive €563 / month, €61 more than in 2023.
VAT at bars and restauratns returns to 19% after a temporary, pandemic-related drop to 7%.
From January, all doctors will be required to issue electronic prescriptions (E-Rezept) so all members of a statutory Krankenkasse will be able to use the service. Here’s a PDF on how it works in English, French, Russian, Spanish and Turkish.
Finally, some supermarket fun: from 2024, all plastic bottles containing dairy products will have a deposit on them. Juice, wine and energy drinks still remain exempt.
That’s enough raw data for now. A few more news bites below.
Thanks to our trusty sponsor Ostrom for helping us make it through the year! I just signed up for their green energy plan on their app — and it was insanely simple.
2023 is tied for second place with 2020 as the warmest recorded year in Berlin history, reports Tagesspiegel (paywall). The average temperature for this year to date was 11.14°C, topped only by 2019 which averaged 11.17°C. The stats were put together by non-profit Berliner Wetterkarte e.V., which exists to “promote meteorological science”. The warmest day of the year was July 15, when the Dahlem weather station measured temps of 34.3°C, way below the all-time high of 38°C. At 773 litres per m², precipitation this year is a bit over average, good news for one of Germany’s driest regions.
Cyclist and pedestrian deaths up slightly
Twelve cyclists died from injuries sustained in Berlin traffic this year, two more than in 2022. Eleven pedestrians were killed in accidents (up from 10). Here’s an official map of all road deaths in 2022, which also included four motorcyclists and one wheelchair user. These numbers need to be zero, obviously. Keep building safe bike lanes — and educating drivers. Lower speed limits could help. Berliner Zeitung points out that things used to be a lot worse: In 1956, West Berlin registered 337 road deaths. Amazingly, there were no urban speed limits at the time. In 1971, 532 people died across East and West Berlin — this was before the introduction of mandatory seat belts.
BVG stablizing but not improving
Berlin will dock BVG €8.9 million in subsidies since the public transport company cannot live up to promises made in its contract with the city-state, according to taz. The company won’t be back to normal until at least late 2024, Berlin transport minister Manja Schreiner said. The company recently reduced its bus schedule to adjust to a lack of qualified drivers and contines to struggle with a higher-than-average amout of workers out sick. Henrik Falk, currently head of a Hamburg public transport system, will take over as CEO Jan. 1 after BVG’s previous leader held a public battle with the company’s supervisory board.
2024 … the year I get my German up to scratch?
SmarterGerman.com’s online courses are designed by a Berlin German teacher with decades of experience. Save up to 53% on course bundles with the code “GERMANRULES2024” if you buy one by January 3!
Dog owners, people with respiratory issues, the city’s wildlife. Fireworks harm our health, trash the streets and cause injuries every year. But Berliners got to have ‘em. Pyrotechnics went on sale on Thursday — and in lieu of any major ban (except for Alexanderplatz, part of Sonnenallee and a neighbourhood in Schöneberg) — expect the usual war-like conditions in the streets on Sunday. Last year Germans spent a record €180 million of fireworks, according to RBB, not counting the vast quantities that get brought in illegally from Poland and elsewhere — and there’s no sign this year will be any different.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ Visit our sponsor! ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
⚡ CONTROL YOUR ENERGY COSTS THIS WINTER ☃️
What easier way to cut costs than by paying less for electricity? With the OSTROM APP, you can easily keep track of your energy consumption and adapt your monthly payments at any time.
Ostrom is the provider that delivers you green energy at cost price — no markups, just a flat €6 admin fee. As an Ostrom customer, you can expect lower electricity bills when market prices drop. To make things easier, they offer a flexible, month-to-month plan that can be canceled anytime, with an all-digital experience in English and German.
Head to OSTROM.DE to sign up in five minutes. Their support team will deal with your ex-provider and ensure your lights stay on throughout the entire switching process.
Use code 20PERC3NT5 for a €35 bonus when signing up. After that,
you’ll get a personal referral code to share, meaning another €35
bonus each time someone uses it!