Fewer people claiming benefits

For the first time in ten years, the number of people in the Netherlands claiming a social benefit has decreased across the board. At the end of August, 334 thousand people were claiming income support. This is 5 thousand fewer than at the end of the first quarter. The number of unemployment benefits fell to 322 thousand after correction for seasonal effects, the number of disability benefits to 922 thousand according to figures from Statistics Netherlands.

Income support claimants down since April

The number of people claiming income support remained stable in the first quarter of 2005. After that it fell by an average of just over one thousand a month. In 2004 the number of people claiming this benefit still rose slightly. Part of the decrease was caused by the introduction of a new law on 1 January 2004, under which municipalities have a direct financial interest in reducing the number of claimants of income support living in the municipality.

Fewer men and young people claim income support

The fall in the number of income support claimants was three times as high for men as for women. From April, the decrease for men was an average 750 benefits a month, while for women it was 350 per month. The reduction was mainly in the group aged under 45 years. Among over-45s the number of income support benefits remained the same.

Unemployment benefits slightly down

After correction for seasonal effects, 322 thousand people were claiming unemployment benefit at the end of August 2005. This is 7 thousand fewer than at the end of June. This improvement on the labour market is also reflected in the developments in the numbers of jobs and vacancies. After seasonal adjustment, the number of jobs was a fraction higher in the third quarter than in the second quarter, and the number of vacancies rose substantially in the third quarter.

Disability continues to decrease

The number of people receiving one of the three disability benefits (WAO, Wajong, WAZ) decreased further after the first quarter of 2005, by 29 thousand. At the end of August a total 922 thousand benefits were registered. With a decrease of an average 5 thousand per month the decrease has been considerably faster in 2005 than in 2004, when it fell by about 2 thousand a month. The decrease is mainly the result of a combined effect of two measures, the Gatekeeper Act (Wet verbetering Poortwachter) and a law under which employers are obliged to pay wages for employees on long-term sick leave for the second as well as the first year of their absence.