Tilburg will not penalise people on benefits living together in six month scheme

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

Welfare benefit claimants in Tilburg will be able to share a house with their partner without having to worry about the effect on their income for a six month period, the city’s employment chief Esmah Lahlah has said in Trouw.

Single people are entitled to €1,199 per month in welfare benefits, but a couple gets €1,627, and this means people who move in together have less money to spend.  ‘This makes many people who want to live together wary of taking the step,’ Lahlah told the paper.

The Tilburg pilot scheme, which will be evaluated in six months’ time, is the first such experiment in the Netherlands, the association of Dutch city councils VNG said.

The experiment is also meant to make clear what exactly a shared household constitutes. ‘What is the difference between that and people in a relationship who visit each other on a regular basis? People are confused about that. They want to do the right thing but are afraid of the consequences. But it can’t be the case that people on benefits can’t be in a relationship, ’ Lahlah said.

Some 7,000 people in Tilburg are on welfare benefits. If the scheme is a success claimants who choose to participate will be invited by the council to talk about any financial consequences to their income.  Those who do not wish to continue living together can return to their home.

Benefits lobby group Landelijke Cliëntenraad said it was in favour of the scheme. ‘We hope something similar will be introduced for people on benefits who have grown up children living at home. They often have to leave because their income has an effect on their parents’ benefits,’ chairwoman Emma Asante told Trouw.

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