Welfare benefit claims rise for first time in four years, young adults hardest hit

Underpayment is a common problem. Photo: Depositphotos.com
Underpayment is a common problem. Photo: Depositphotos.com

The number of people claiming welfare benefits (bijstand) rose by 3% last year, the first increase since 2016, national statistics agency CBS said on Monday.

By the end of last year, 429,000 people under the retirement age of 66 were claiming welfare benefits, up 14,000 on the year-earlier period.  The increase was biggest among young adults up to the age of 27, with the number of benefit claims up almost 12%.

The CBS did not say why young adults in particular were more likely to be claiming welfare benefits, but the nature of their employment contracts is likely to be responsible.

People with temporary or flexible contracts are unlikely to qualify for unemployment benefit and therefore more likely to end up claiming basic support if they lose their jobs.

The figures do not take temporary coronavirus support, such as the Tozo scheme for freelancers, into account.

In addition, government wage support companies has kept many people off the unemployment books, with the official Dutch jobless rate actually falling during the crisis.

However, economists expect unemployment to increase sharply as 2021 progresses and more companies go bust or lay off staff, because of the impact of the pandemic and the continued lockdown.

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