In 2005, the number of people in the Netherlands claiming the three most important types of social security benefits declined. According to the latest figures published by Statistics Netherlands, the total number of labour disablement benefits dropped by over 60 thousand; income support benefits dropped by 11 thousand and unemployment benefits by 18 thousand.
Obvious decrease in labour disablement benefits
The number of labour disablement allowances (WAO, Wajong, WAZ) was reduced by more than 60 thousand in 2005. The reduction was evenly spread across both genders. In December, the number of benefits dropped below 900 thousand, when 899 thousand benefits were registered. In 2004 and 2003, the number of benefit recipients was reduced by 21 thousand and 11 thousand respectively.
Remarkable decline in new labour disablement benefits
The overall decrease in labour disablement benefits is mainly the result of a decrease in the number of new claimants. On average, the number of new claimants dropped by over 80 percent from nearly 7,500 a month in 2002 to over 1,300 a month in 2005. The outflow of claimants remained stable over the period 2002-2005.
The decrease in the number of new claimants is largely due to the Wet Verbetering Poortwachter (an act promoting rapid reintegration of ill employees) and an amendment to the Wet Uitbreiding Loondoorbetaling bij Ziekte. The amendment came into force on 1 January 2004 and expands the period employers are obliged to pay full wages in case of illness to two years. This caused the number of benefits to decrease further in the course of 2005.
Decrease in short-term benefits
The number of social security benefits started to decline in the second quarter of 2005 and fell to 328 thousand on December 31. The number of benefits dropped by 1,250 each month from March onwards, as against an average monthly increase by 1,300 in 2003. In 2004, the average increase had already dropped to 250 a month.
The reduction in the amount of income support benefits is entirely caused by a decrease in short-term (i.e. less than twelve months) benefits. Claimants are mostly in the under-45 age bracket.
Number of male recipients of unemployment benefits further down
The number of unemployment benefits dropped by more than 18 thousand in 2005 to 307 thousand on December 31. The seasonally adjusted figure at the end of 2001 stood at 166 thousand and subsequently began to rise until July 2005. In the latter half of 2005, the seasonally adjusted number of unemployment benefits decreased by more than 23 thousand, i.e. by an average of almost 4 thousand a month.
Men in particular appear to benefit from the recent improvement of employment opportunities. The number of male benefit recipients fell by 18 thousand in the latter half of 2005. The decrease among women was well over 5 thousand.
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