Local councils are not enforcing new benefit cuts designed to ensure that people on welfare support improve their language skills.
Under the rules, which came into force this year, municipalities can require claimants whose Dutch is below the standard of a 12-year-old to attend language classes. If they refuse, their payouts can be cut by 20% initially and cancelled altogether after a year.
But a survey of 170 municipalities carried out by NOS found that not one welfare payment had been reduced since the measure was introduced. New claimants have been tested for language ability since 1 January, with the scheme extended to existing claimants from 1 July.
Some municipalities told NOS the move was superfluous because they were already taking steps to improve language skills. Others said there was no money available to provide language courses. The government says competence in Dutch is a basic requisite for finding work.
Rotterdam, which has the largest number of welfare claimants with limited language skills, said it would take two and a half years to test all 39,000 cases. The city is starting with the 3,200 claimants who have no qualifications to demonstrate language proficiency.