Freelancers whose income has been hit by the coronavirus will be eligible for a three-month subsidy, the Dutch government has announced.
If their monthly income falls to below the ‘social minimum’, they can apply to their local council for a subsidy of up to €1,050 per month for single people or €1,500 for families.
The new deal is effectively a speeded-up version of an existing income support subsidy, the ‘Tozo’, but only requires a declaration from the freelancers that their income has been hit. Assets and partner income will not be taken into account.
People who apply will get the subsidy within four weeks and if it turns out that their income was actually higher, there will be checks later in the year, officials said.
The ruling applies to people who are working at least 24 hours a week and who have a business that was registered with the chamber of commerce before 17th March 2020.
‘The government urges freelancers to use this ruling only if it really is necessary,’ the official statement said. ‘This way we will avoid abuse of public money and unnecessary pressure in rolling it out.’ The statement warned that local councils are legally obliged to combat benefits fraud and impose fines in the case of abuse.
‘The government has announced strong measures that have a huge impact on companies to combat coronavirus,’ said junior employment minister Tamara van Ark.
‘They mean that many entrepreneurs and freelancers are seeing the consequences, and their work may even come to a complete standstill. With this scheme, we want to provide income and capital to support independent entrepreneurs and so that we can get through this tough period together.’
Freelancers will also be able to apply for special three-year business loans of up to €10,517, with a 2% interest rate, while those firms that – like hairdressers – have been forced to close, are eligible for another €4,000 in support.
‘Some people have seen their income disappear like snow in the sun, and they need clarity, quick answers and not for 1.4million freelancers to be treated the same,’ she said. ‘It’s normal for freelancers to have irregular income, and while some have long-term projects, others are paid per job, per piece or per hour. Everyone has a different situation.’
She added that she is being paid now for work that she did in January, so only in a few months will her income reflect the current drop in work for DJing and events.
For some weeks, freelancers and organisations have been calling for special rules to support sole traders explicitly.
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