Unions, social security chiefs warn on ‘work for welfare’ plan

The government’s plan to ensure people claiming welfare benefits do something for society in return will put pressure on regular jobs, according to the country’s biggest trade union group.

FNV deputy chairman Ruud Kuin is due to answer questions from a parliamentary committee on Thursday about the plans to introduce ‘voluntary work for welfare’ from next July.

Kuin told news agency ANP the union is worried that local councils will use welfare (bijstand) claimants to carry out regular jobs, without paying them proper wages. The union has already had complaints about this happening, he said.

René Paas, from the local authority social service association, told Trouw that making voluntary work compulsory will not have the desired effect.  

Having to find voluntary work for claimants will take time and energy which could be better used to help people find a real job, he told the paper.


Last December, the Volkskrant reported that some home helps in Rotterdam are to be replaced by welfare benefit claimants doing ‘voluntary work’.

Rotterdam city council is to require people considered to be hard to place to do compulsory volunteer work, the paper says, and this will include doing shopping and ironing for the housebound.

Ultimately, 10% of the work traditionally done by paid home helps should be done by welfare claimants, the council says. Home help services are being slashed because of government cutbacks.

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