MPs are on Monday debating the cabinet’s plans to get tough on welfare benefit claims, by introducing the principle of shared living and requiring claimants to do something in return for their money.
The aim of the reforms is to ensure welfare benefits (bijstand) are seen as a safety net rather than a right, ministers say.
Claimants will be required by law to give something back to society in return for the cash, including voluntary work such as serving coffee in a nursing home.
In addition, people who share a house will be subject to new rules based on the principle of shared expenses.
This means, for example, a mother and son on welfare benefits will no longer be entitled to two single people’s money. Instead they will get a reduced payment in line with couples.
People requesting welfare benefits will also have to prove they have spent the past four weeks doing all they can to find work. The waiting period currently applies to people aged under 27.
People who can find work in another area will have to move or be prepared to travel up to three hours a day. Those who refuse to ensure they dress properly for interviews will also have their benefits cut..
The family spending institute Nibud has looked at the likely impact of the changes on different household set-ups.
It says in particular households with someone with a handicap will be hard hit by the changes, with cuts of between 5% and 34% in their spending power.
For example, a household made up of a pensioner who shares a house with an adult child on welfare benefits currently has net income of €2,046 a month including special tax breaks and health insurance benefits but excluding housing benefit. That will be cut by €440 euros in the new system, or 21%.
Three retired sisters sharing a home will see their household income cut from €3,494 a month to €2,571.
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