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Government shakes up welfare, incapacity benefit safety net

Wednesday 01 February 2012

Employers and junior social affairs minister Paul de Krom have reached a deal on creating 5,000 new jobs for people who find it hard to get work or who have a mental or physical handicap, the minister said on Wednesday.

The new jobs are part of a radical shake-up of the special-needs job sector, which the minister described as the current cabinet's 'biggest reform' to date.

The plan involves merging basic welfare benefits (bijstand) and the Wajong benefit for the young handicapped and abolishing sheltered work schemes. The primary motive is 'reforming the bottom layer of the labour market', and ensuring 'those who can work do work', the minister told the Volkskrant.

Local councils

Responsibility for the new scheme will be shifted to local councils. If people are not able to work hard enough to qualify for the minimum wage, employers will be able to cut salaries and the local councils will make up the difference.

The government hopes the new system will save €1.8bn a year within 30 years.

Lobby groups for the handicapped say while they support efforts to find people with special needs regular jobs, the new rules will be very complex and difficult to implement.


Some 100,000 people currently work in special projects for the handicapped. A further 200,000 youngsters claim the young-handicapped benefit Wajong - of whom around half work part-time. A further 314,000 people are claiming welfare benefits.

In particular, low-skilled work currently done by people from Eastern Europe offers opportunities, the minister is quoted as saying in the Financieele Dagblad.

'In Rotterdam, 33,000 people are claiming welfare benefits but nearby local authority areas employ thousands of Eastern Europeans. That has to change,' De Krom said. 'I want and expect a culture change.'

© DutchNews.nl


Readers' Comments

Idealistic and wrong. The business owners who employ the workhorses that are eastern EU will go under with the Wajong replacements. I work with Eastern Europeans, I have a child with Wajong: it would, sadly, take upto a dozen such youths to every one lowcost immigrant, to carry the workload for that business, through no fault of their own (they never asked for a disability!) If that business then goes under, I guess they'll have no choice but to reopen the shelters: but they'll have ruined one man/woman's entire life to bankruptcy in the process.

If the MPs have freethinking brains, they'd investigate this. Otherwise, pray for the fall of this joke of a government while there's still time.

By sad to see | 1 February 2012 8:11 PM

Has everyone gone mad? You are going to bankrupt hard-working Eastern Europeans and make it impossible for them to find work by subsidizing native Dutch workers so that employers can pay them below minimum wage rates? -This isn't the country I thought it was. A lot of people here get down on Holland a lot, but this kind of thing is just growing and growing and every week it just gets worse.

By Kevin | 1 February 2012 10:00 PM

What Mr. de Krom calls 'low skilled' work done by Eastern Europeans can actually be very skilled work, and therefore the Dutch unemployed will not be able to do it as well. Take asparagus picking for example; it's skilled work, and the Polish pickers have perfected their expertise over years. I do wish Mr. de Krom had to go work 'near Rotterdam' for a week. See how well he performs.

By Carrie Ballard | 2 February 2012 8:38 AM

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