Councils ‘take advantage’ of new welfare rules with work contracts

Some local councils are going to extremes in demanding welfare benefit claimants ‘do something’ in order to qualify for the cash, the Volkskrant reports on Monday.

Trade union federation FNV says many councils are now taking advantage of the unemployed and that some are being asked to do jobs which the council has scrapped because of budget cuts.

For example, the combined social services department in the Zeeland local councils of Vlissingen, Middelburg and Veere requires bijstand (welfare) claimants to sign a contract agreeing to carry out non-specified work for 32 hours for a year.

One man from Middelburg who refused to sign had his benefits reduced and then stopped, the Volkskrant says. He took legal action against the council and judges ruled in his favour, saying he should at least have been told what sort of work he would be expected to do.

Some 300 people in the three Zeeland authorities have already signed similar contracts. ‘The advantage of not specifying what work they have to do is that they can be used where necessary,’ a spokesman told the Volkskrant. ‘They could be used to clear snow or clear up rubbish.’

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