Huge increase in East Europeans on benefits

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The number of East Europeans on benefits in the Netherlands has increased explosively. Almost 12,000 Poles and other migrants from the newer EU member states are currently receiving Dutch benefits.

Almost 3200 of them receive social security, more than 2500 are on unemployment benefits and over 1400 have a disability allowance. In addition, around 4400 East Europeans receive a state pension or a surviving relative’s pension.

Social Affairs Minister Henk Kamp presented the figures to parliament on Wednesday. At the end of last year, there were just 1070 East Europeans on social security and 1527 on unemployment benefit, as the minister reported to parliament last summer. At the time, he expressed his concern that more Poles would request benefits.

Minister Kamp says he is shocked by the figures and referred to the borders with Romania and Bulgaria not yet being opened. “Who is to say that this figure won’t rise to 30,000 or 40,000 soon?" he said. If it does it will cost the treasury hundreds of millions of euros.

A large majority of MPs conservative VVD, Christian Democrats, Freedom Party, Labour Party, Party and Socialist Party expressed their support for cabinet plans to limit work permits for Romanians and Bulgarians until 2014.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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