The Hague official calls for overhaul of failing integration procedures

Dutch aap noot mies.jpgThe Hague city alderman Rabin Baldewsingh (PvdA) has called for major changes in the way the integration of newcomers to the Netherlands is organised.

New arrivals have had to organise and pay for integration courses themselves since 2013 but this does not work, Baldewsingh says in an interview with the AD.

‘I see more and more people who don’t speak the language and don’t know this city or the country,’ he said. The vulnerable layer is expanding.’

Although people can borrow money from the government to pay for language lessons, many don’t do this because they are worried they won’t be able to pay it back, he said.

Criticism of the government’s integration policy has been mounting both among experts and in the corridors of power, the AD said.

Losing their grip

Councils are losing their grip on the integration process, Baldwesingh said, adding that he is planning to lobby other cities to call for change as well. ‘Action needs to be taken,’ he said. ‘The old integration strategy must be brought back. The current one is bankrupt.’

Social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher told parliament in October almost half of people who moved to the Netherlands in 2013 and should complete their integration procedures within three years have now done so.

In April, MPs had reacted angrily to the news that just 32% of people had passed the required integration tests within the allotted three years.

In addition, Asscher said 9% of the new arrivals had not met the conditions of their stay and could be fined. This is the equivalent of 96 fines, the minister said, without confirming if they actually had to pay.