Slob pledges to step up efforts to cut 'unacceptable' school absence

Lower incomes pay more for cleaner economy: report

Around 4,000 children missed at least three months of school last year despite efforts by the government to tackle the causes of long-term absence. The number of so-called 'thuiszitters' was roughly the same in 2016/17 as in the previous academic year. Around 1700 children were not registered with a school at all. Education minister Arie Slob said the trend was 'not acceptable'. 'Children who don't go to school can fall behind in their education, but also miss out on making friends,' he said. Two years ago former children's ombudsman Marc Dullaert was given the job of enacting an agreement between the government, education authorities and municipalities to improve the system for reducing school absence. Dullaert said youth care and education services needed to work more closely together to identify children at risk of missing school. School absence is often linked to domestic problems such as an acrimonious divorce. The current government has extended Dullaert's term by six months. Slob said he also wanted to change the system for exempting children from school, which is currently the responsibility of family doctors. The minister said schools and local authorities should be involved in the process. 'That would help doctors making the decision because they don't always have a good picture of the available options to tailor the schooling for the pupil.'  More >

Turkey angered by Armenian genocide vote

Lower incomes pay more for cleaner economy: report Turkey has summoned the Netherlands' senior diplomat to account for the Dutch parliament's vote to recognise the Armenian genocide of 1915. A majority of MPs backed a campaign by Christian Union MP Joël Voordewind to acknowledge the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenian Christians by the Ottoman empire as an act of genocide. They also supported sending a minister to represent the Netherlands at the official commemoration in Armenia in April. The decision has put further strain on the already frayed relationship between the two countries. The Netherlands formally withdrew its ambassador from Ankara earlier this month, but has had no representation since last March, when a Turkish minister was denied permission to attend a gathering of supporters in Rotterdam and given a police escort out of the country. Turkey has ordered the acting ambassador to report to the ministry of foreign affairs to discuss what its government continues to describe as 'the Armenian question'. Voordewind said the Netherlands should take a stand as the home of the institutions of international law in The Hague. ‘We are acknowledging history,' he said. 'That is not the same thing as casting aspersions as Turkey has done towards the Netherlands.'  More >

Dutch hire 750 customs officers for Brexit

Lower incomes pay more for cleaner economy: report The Dutch government is recruiting up to 900 extra customs officers to strengthen border controls after Brexit. Junior finance minister Menno Snel said adverts would be placed this week so that the new border guards are trained and ready to start work when the UK leaves the European Union in March next year. Snel said between 750 and 930 more officers would be needed for a force that currently numbers around 5,000. The extra staff will be mainly required to check goods exports heading to and from the UK after trade restrictions are reintroduced. 'It's down to us to make sure that we are as well prepared as possible for the new situation [after Brexit] and that is especially the case for our customs operations,' Snel told BNR. Last month Anne Mulder, a VVD MP charged with assessing Brexit from the Dutch perspective, urged the government not to delay plans to increase its border control capacity. The number of export declarations is expected to leap by a third to more than 16 million in the year after Britain leaves the EU. 'We can't wait until there's a deal, because you can't train all those people in one week,' Mulder told NRC. Tourists and business travellers are unlikely to be affected as the UK is not part of the Schengen area, so border checks are already in place. Border controls Meanwhile, the military police, who carry out passport checks at the Dutch borders, are recruiting 417 unarmed civilians and reservists for airport controls, the Financieele Dagblad said at the weekend. The measure is intended to reduce the pressure on the border control service and shorten waiting times at airports during peak periods. The new border staff be trained for four weeks (consisting of 80 hours of self-study and eight ‘contract moments’), followed by a three-month internship. It is a pilot project and a follow-up to an earlier experiment with unarmed reservists last year.  More >

Single breadwinner pays more tax

Lower incomes pay more for cleaner economy: report Single income families pay relatively more tax that households with two earners, the government's macro-economic policy unit CPB said in a new report on Thursday. Since 2005, the government has gradually been increasing the tax breaks available to dual income families to encourage more women to go out to work, a policy known as phasing out the kitchen sink subsidy. Last year, a single person earning €50,000 a year lost about 31% of his or her salary to tax. But a dual income couple paid around 26% in tax on their joint equivalent salary. The five percentage point gap between the two will widen to seven by 2030 if government policy remains unchanged, the CPB said. The current coalition government, with two Christian parties, has pledged to ensure 'balance' in the different tax pressure experienced by one and two income households. 'It is up to politicans to make a choice about this, but you could ask if it is achieving its aim,' CPB researcher Egbert Jongen, told Radio 1 news.  More >

No go for Wilders' Dutch discrimination

Lower incomes pay more for cleaner economy: report The public prosecution department said on Thursday that it will not proceed with a complaint made by anti-Islam campaigner Geert Wilders that prime minister Mark Rutte is discriminating against 'ordinary Dutchmen'. 'There is no question of an offence being committed,' the department said in a short statement on Twitter. In addition, the department said, it is not allowed by law to take action against ministers and only parliament or the king would be able to order the high court to take such a step. In a reaction, Wilders said the department was being cowardly and he will consider an appeal. Accommodation facilities for asylum seekers, free healthcare for refugees with no income and the abolition of dividend tax to attract overseas investors are all examples of legislation where the government discriminates in favour of foreigners, according to the PVV leader. Most of the complaints on the PVV website focus on asylum seekers. Wilders has been prosecuted twice under discrimination laws in the last seven years. In 2011 he was cleared of insulting Muslims and inciting hatred and discrimination in a series of public statements and his documentary film, Fitna.  More >