Councils say tough new rules for claiming welfare need revising

Council executives in Amsterdam, Utrecht, Leiden and Hengelo have serious doubts about the government’s plans to tighten up the conditions for claiming welfare benefits, the NRC says on Wednesday.

From July 1, would-be bijstand claimants will have to be prepared to move home or commute for up to three hours a day in order to qualify for the cash. They must also dress and behave in a way that will not hinder their chances of finding work.

The council officials say the sanctions for non-compliance – a three-month benefit suspension – are much too severe, the NRC reports.


‘It means a family would no longer be able to pay their rent, gas and lighting,’ said Leiden alderman Jan-Jaap de Haan, from the Christian Democrats. ‘Punishment should not make the situation more difficult, but encourage a more desirable situation.’


The definition of appropriate clothing and personal care is also difficult, said Hengelo official Mariska ten Heuw (Socialist Party).  ‘One person thinks a three-day beard is fine, the other thinks it is unacceptable. Who are we to decide,’ she told the NRC.

The councils want the government to give them the freedom to decide if people should face sanctions or not. Legal experts also doubt if the measure is legal.

Parliament will discuss the plans again next week.

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