Wednesday 20 November 2019

Utrecht hopes to launch welfare experiment with carrot but no stick

Photo: Depositphotos.com

Utrecht city council hopes to launch an experiment in which a group of welfare benefit claimants will face fewer rules, broadcaster RTL Z said on Friday.

The plan has not yet been approved by the social affairs ministry, but if it gets the green light, a select group of claimants will no longer be required to apply for jobs on a weekly basis.

City alderman Victor Everhardt says the current system is based on mistrust. ‘We have to ask if such a system of controls is the most effective way to stimulate welfare claimants to get a job,’ he said. ‘What happens if scrap rules and we leave the initiative up to them?’

If approved, the experiment will run for two years and involve a group of between 500 and 1,000 people, who will be selected by lottery.

Several other local authorities in the Netherlands are considering similar experiments.

Basic income

In January, the social affairs minister torpedoed hopes by the Zeeland town of Terneuzen to become the first in the country to experiment with a basic income.

Town councillors wanted to give 20 people currently living on welfare payments a monthly income of €933 with no strings attached. But the ministry said that the experiment could not go ahead as planned because the people who would have received the money do not have to do anything in return, and this is against the law.

Wageningen, Tilburg, Nijmegen and Groningen are also keen to experiment with basic incomes. Last year, the government agreed to give more leeway for experiments with different forms of income and welfare benefits.

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