More welfare claims in north, jobs plan for Groningen

euro money banknotesMore people in northern parts of the Netherlands are claiming welfare benefits than there were 10 years ago, the national statistics office CBS said on Monday.

In rural towns such as Pekela and Oldambt, the increase in welfare claims has been in the region of two percentage points, the CBS said. In Groningen city itself, there are fewer welfare claims.

The increase is due to poor economic prospects in the region and the growing difficulty in finding a job. In addition, people with good career perspectives are more likely to move the cities and the west, the CBS said.

Some 5% of the people in areas where depopulation is an issue are claiming welfare benefits, compared with 4% in the Netherlands as a whole.

Meanwhile, social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher and Groningen companies and unions have come up with a €45m investment plan to boost job opportunities in the region. Asscher is picking up €18m of the bill.

The focus of the plan is on training and education for the construction, energy and chemicals sectors. Average educational levels in the region are low but the demand for skilled workers is increasing, news agency ANP said.

The cabinet has allocated €600m for job schemes on the condition that local companies and unions match or better the government’s investment.

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