Prinsjesdag, the day the Dutch government publishes its 2024 spending plans, is typically a day when the papers and broadcasters like to take stock with a string of “state of the nation” surveys. This budget day, with a caretaker cabinet and no major announcements likely, is no exception.
Broadcaster NOS commissioned research from Ipsos, which questioned “a representative sample” of just over 2,000 people and found 64% think the gap between rich and poor should be reduced, including 43% of backers of right-wing Liberal party VVD.
Some six in 10 think taxes should go up for companies and 56% for high earners. Almost half also want a higher tax on assets.
Seven in 10 think the Netherlands is “heading in the wrong direction” but this is an improvement on last year when 77% were pessimistic about the future. Just over half say they are financially secure and this too is an improvement of seven percentage points on 2022.
But 72% think politicians are too busy dealing with their own problems rather than those of the country and just 33% say they still have faith in political systems. In particular, the housing market, healthcare and immigration need better strategies, those questioned say.
Making ends meet
RTL Nieuws asked 17,500 members of its news panel for their thoughts and found that 40% are concerned about their own financial future. One in five said they are able to make ends meet but save nothing and 8% saying they cannot pay all their bills.
“I’m not poor and I don’t want you to think that,” said panel member Johan Groot, who works in healthcare. “It is not as if we have to live off €80 a week, but neither do I feel that I am benefiting from the fact my wife and I both work.”
A large majority of panel have cut back on spending in recent months to shore up their finances. Just 5% have started working longer hours, 3% have asked for a pay rise and 2% have taken on another job.
The AD commissioned research from MWM2 which questioned a “representative group” of 1,000 people. This survey found one in five have trouble paying their bills and three in 10 say they are worried they might be in this situation in the near future.
Money worries were particularly prevalent among the under 35s and people with an income up to €2,000 a month. One in five people surveyed also said they did not have enough savings to deal with unexpected expenditure.
“The weekly shop costs more, subscriptions are more expensive, bills are going up,” one respondent said. “You can’t save as much, especially if your salary only goes up by €100.”
The 29,000 members of the EenVandaag panel who took part in its budget day survey, were asked about the political state of the nation. That research showed that the leadership changes in many of the big parties had not led to an increase in confidence in politicians.
“The old guard clearly had to go, but the new generation will have to prove themselves first,” one respondent said.
Kees van der Staaij, the former leader of the fundamentalist Protestant party SGP is the most missed of those leaving. Half of those polled said they were sorry to see him go. Just 22% said it was a shame that Mark Rutte, the Netherlands’ longest-serving prime minister, was stepping down.
The Telegraaf preferred instead to interview the leaders of the two biggest employers organisations for their views, focusing on the financial squeeze many people are facing.
“You can only guarantee financial security if you can earn that money as well,” argued Ingrid Thijssen, chairwoman of the VNO-NCW.
Thijssen and small business chief Jacco Vonhof said they are concerned the country’s “economic motor” will be wrecked if some of the mooted measures to shore up spending power are introduced, such as a further rise in the minimum wage.
“There shouldn’t be poverty in a rich country such as the Netherlands,” Vonhof said. “But no one is asking why the problem arose. And let us be clear. Small firms are struggling to stay profitable. And they account for most of the companies we have.”
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