‘Robin Hood’ account helps the needy
5 December 2003
AMSTERDAM — Amid tight government budget cuts, green-left GroenLinks has opened a “Robin Hood” bank account, allowing the public to deposit money to assist the socially disadvantaged faced with financial difficulties.
Social Affairs Minister Aart Jan de Geus has helped set the account up and has formed a team to handle calls from people wishing to make donations. “Where the government can no longer help, it is good that people stand up for each other,” he said.
Due to EUR 170 million in cuts to the social affairs budget, municipal councils are finding it difficult to meet the needs of the socially disadvantaged. Money deposited into the Robin Hood account will supplement local council funds, Radio Netherlands reported on Friday.
The account is an idea of GroenLinks MP Ineke van Gent, who said everyone who earns EUR 100,000 or more should be forced to pay EUR 500 extra in tax. “Otherwise, the difference between rich and poor in 2004 will be unacceptably large,” she said.
The plan failed to gain majority approval in the Lower House of Parliament and De Geus also said the tax went too far. But the minister was prepared to give the wealthy the chance to voluntarily help out.
“I have not devised it, but people who have something left over can certainly chip in,” he said.
Meanwhile, after recent figures indicated that vulnerable groups in society — such as the chronically sick and handicapped — will lose 8 percent of their purchasing power as a result of government budget cuts, cabinet ministers said earlier this week they are prepared to offer them compensation.
Minister De Geus, Health Minister Hans Hoogervorst and Finance State Secretary Joop Wijn said they are prepared to improve the financial situation of the worst afflicted groups and the cabinet officially decided on Friday it will allocate EUR 110 million towards boosting the purchasing power of the handicapped and chronically ill.
The government intends to cut EUR 17 billion from its budget between now and 2007 and most people will suffer a 5 percent loss of purchasing power. The government has denied claims it previously committed itself to reducing the loss of purchasing power to just 1 percent.
[Copyright Expatica News 2003]
Subject: Dutch news