Dutch Labour MPs reject benefit reduction plan
The proposal would leave young disabled people with benefits equivalent to 70 percent of the minimum wage.20 May 2008
THE NETHERLANDS - The leader of the Dutch parliamentary Labour Party, Mariëtte Hamer, says Labour MPs reject the idea of reducing benefits for young disabled people.
Employment Minister Piet Hein Donner is proposing a reduction for those who are able to do some work. He says the current system is too soft and difficult teenagers are given the idea that they do not need to take care of themselves. Hamer has called the plan "unnegotiable".
The minister's proposals would leave disabled young people with benefits equivalent to 70 percent of the minimum wage, and they would be expected to augment their income by getting a job. Donner hopes to introduce the changes in 2010.
At present, young handicapped people are assessed when they are 18 years old. Those entitled to maximum disability benefit receive 75 percent of the minimum wage until pension age.
Under Donner's proposal only severely handicapped young people, around a third of the total, would still be entitled to full benefits. Others would be obliged to seek work.
Over recent years, increasing numbers of young people have been registered as disabled. Every year, around 16,000 new names are added to the list. Currently 167,000 young people are receiving disability benefit, and the Central Planning Office predicts there could be half a million by 2040. Minister Donner expects the costs to increase from EUR 2 billion to 6 billion.
Hamer agrees with the minister that something must be done about the situation, but believes helping the young people find suitable work is a better solution than reducing their benefits.
MP Cynthia Ortega-Martijn says her party, the Christian Union, is willing to consider the measure if job guarantees are given, as she says most of them do actually want to work.
[Radio Netherlands / Expatica]