Support, help with the recovery and investments to ensure the economy remains strong are the key ingredients in the government’s third aid package for industry, economic affairs minister Erik Wiebes said on Friday afternoon.
‘The uncertainty created by coronavirus is phenomenal,’ Wiebes told a press conference. ‘There are some signs of hope… but the virus is still here, it is unpredictable and its impact is still to be felt in some sectors.’
All the current measures are being extended, albeit in a more limited form at a cost of €11bn.
The current NOW salary support scheme runs at 90% of the wage bill for companies with a drop in turnover of at least 20%. From October, the support will be reduced in stages to 80%, 70% and 30% while from January, the scheme will only apply to companies with a turnover reduction of at least 30%.
The cost of this measure is put at some €5.4bn. Companies in receipt of NOW support will not be fined if they sack staff and will be able to reduce salaries if unions agree, but the ban on dividend and bonus payments will remain.
The Tozo scheme for the self-employed will also be adapted, in line with the thought that people who cannot earn a living in their chosen field should either change direction or find a job.
From October 1, claimants will only be eligible for help if they have no more than €46,520 in savings, cash or assets but not property. The second Tozo scheme had already introduced a check on partners’ assets.
The package also includes a focus on retraining and helping people to find new jobs. ‘Existing schemes to help people who are claiming benefits can be used but we are also giving the unions and employers a role,’ social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees said. ‘In sectors where jobs may be lost in the future, companies can start with retraining ahead of time,’ Koolmees said.
The cabinet package also includes investing in the future via a €20bn investment fund which will run for the next five years. More details about that will be published later.
In addition, extra money being allocated to the cultural sector, partly in the form of subsidies for local and provincial government to support local innovative projects and new ways of reaching the public.
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