Welfare benefit changes softened to win opposition support
Ministers have again been forced to make concessions on reform proposals – this time in order to to get tough new plans for welfare benefit claimants through both houses of parliament.
The Liberal democratic party D66 and two small Christian parties have agreed to vote in favour of the reforms in return for some changes to the draft legislation.
Last week it emerged junior social affairs minister Jetta Klijnsma had agreed to exempt single parents who claim welfare (bijstand) from applying for jobs while their children are small.
On Monday Klijnsma confirmed the changes will not come into effect until January 1, 2015, six months later than planned.
Young people claiming disability benefits (wajong) will have to go through a new assessment as planned. However, if they are found to be fit for work, they will not automatically be transferred to the welfare system or subject to an asset check. Some 237,000 people claim wajong benefits, meaning they were diagnosed as unfit for work before their 18th birthday.
Local councils will also be given more leeway to decide what welfare claimants should do for society in return for their cash.
Klijnsma wants to shake up the welfare system by making sure claimants are actively looking for work and introducing work for welfare schemes. But she needs the support of opposition parties to get the changes through the upper house of parliament, where the government does not have a majority.
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