Learn Dutch or lose welfare benefits, new draft law says

People who do not speak sufficient Dutch will lose their rights to welfare benefits after one year, if draft legislation now sent out to consultation becomes law, broadcaster Nos reports.

Junior social affairs minister Jetta Klijnsma has sent the draft bill to the Council of State advisory body for its recommendations, the broadcaster says.

Making speaking Dutch one of the conditions for claiming welfare benefits (bijstand) has been mooted for several years and was included in the coalition agreement. Welfare is paid to people who do not, or no longer, qualify for unemployment (ww) or incapacity (wao) benefits.

The level of Dutch required to continue to qualify for welfare involves ‘simple conversations about everyday things’, Nos says.

People who refuse to learn Dutch will have their benefits cut by 20%, which will rise to 40% after six months. After a full year, the benefits will be stopped altogether. The cabinet hopes to implement the new rules next year

The Dutch requirement is the latest in a string of reforms to the welfare system which Klijnsma is introducing. People who refuse to look for work or who wear unsuitable clothing such as a burka will have their benefits stopped for three months.

In addition, claimants will be required to ‘give something back to society’ in return for their financial support.’