Eastern Groningen towns fear financial impact of jobs plan

The government’s plans to integrate disabled people into the normal workforce will cause major financial problems in parts of eastern Groningen province, the Financieele Dagblad reports on Tuesday.

Seven of the provinces local authorities, all areas of high unemployment, say they will be left short of cash because they will not be able to meet government targets, the FD says.

Junior employment minister Jetta Klijnsma sent the draft legislation to parliament on Monday.

The aim of the new law is to get people claiming welfare and disability benefits and those working in sheltered employment schemes into the regular workforce.

Budget cuts

In total, the local authority budget for welfare and sheltered employment schemes is being cut by €2bn because ministers expect people will leave benefits for work.

However, Jan Willem van de Kolk, alderman in the small town of Stadskanaal, told the FD the minister’s plans are ‘utopia’ in eastern Groningen.

‘We think of the 10,000 people on benefits or in sheltered work schemes, 700 can be helped to a regular job,’ he said. The main reason is the lack of jobs in the region. On average, there are 730 jobs available for every 1,000 people but in eastern Groningen there are just 590 jobs per 1,000.

In addition, most of the employers are small firms with fewer than 25 people, who will be exempt from new legislation on employing people with disabilities, he pointed out.

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