Groningen poor to receive flat-screen TV handouts
The Groningen council is handing out grants to people on low incomes so they can replace their worn-out TV with flat-screen TVs.21 October 2008
GRONINGEN -- People on low incomes in the Groningen area will now be eligible to receive flat-screen televisions paid for by the council, reports Radio One news and sports station.
The councillors in Groningen in the north of the Netherlands believe that everyone, including minimum earners, should be able to buy flat-screen TVs. They decided grants available to the poor to replace old television sets should rise from the present EUR 170 to no less than EUR 450.
Introducing a discussion on the subject, the radio anchorman quotes a well-known Dutch leftist slogan "Don't bitch, everyone rich". Although he laughs, a conservative VVD member on the council opposition doesn't agree with the motto. He thinks the poorest in society should get money to replace worn-out TVs, but believes that a council handout to buy a 55-centimetre flat-screen is going too far.
Defending the policy, a council spokeswoman points out that it was introduced after a vote at which VVD councillors were present. She says people on benefits or very low incomes are not able to save the money needed to replace fridges, washing machines and televisions. They are able to apply once every eight years for a special grant to replace a television set which is beyond repair.
The council apparently voted to raise the grant to the new national level of EUR 450 decided by the Dutch Institute for Budgetary Information (NIBUD). Nearly all Dutch councils have introduced the new grant levels and Groningen, she explains, was in fact lagging a bit behind.
The VVD councillor is having none of it. After conducting some research, the VVD councillor dismisses a NIBUD statement saying old-fashioned TVs are difficult to find. He has recently visited major retailers and was able to find perfectly good televisions for EUR 170. He promises to bring the issue up at the next council meeting.
[Radio Netherlands / Expatica]