The amount of Dutch households officially described as ‘low income’ is set to start falling this year, due to a rise in the number of wealthy pensioners.
The annual Poverty Monitor, published by the national statistics office CBS and the government’s social policy unit SCP, says that 2006 marks a turning point and, by 2007, only 3% of pensioners could be described as living in poverty. In 2000, 12% of pensioner households lived below the poverty line – put at €860 net per single person per month.
CBS researcher Michiel Vergeer told the Volkskrant that pensioners’ incomes had been improving, in line with the working population, since 2000. This was partly due to government measures, but also because fewer had to rely solely on the AOW (state pension), he said.
Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said the report showed that government policies were working and, although the left-wing parties were always going on about poverty in the Netherlands, the poor were not getting poorer.
However, Labour (PvdA) leader Wouter Bos said there had been a 14% rise in households living below the poverty line since Balkenende took office.
The researchers expect the number of people living on or below the poverty threshold to continue declining now that the turning point had been reached – but added that single people, families with young children, and ethnic minority households would still feel the pinch.
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