Municipalities earmark more for construction and safety, less for income support

The municipal budgets for 2006 show that total expenditure by the Dutch municipalities will rise by nearly 3 percent this year, to 43.5 billion euro. Municipalities have budgeted more for all policy areas except income support benefits and education.

Expenditure by municipalities by policy area

Sturdy growth for construction activity

Environmental planning and public housing are the main budget item. Spending on these activities is set to rise by 0.6 billion euro to 7.1 billion euro. Municipalities have set aside 4.7 billion euro for the operation of building sites, 16 percent more than in 2005. The increase is the result of increased construction activity. Revenues from the operation of building sites will rise by 0.8 billion.

Public order and safety: large differences between municipalities

Spending on public order and safety will rise by nearly 7 percent to 1.3 billion euro. By far the most important items within this category are spending on the fire services, which is entirely accountable to the municipalities, civic guard, crime prevention and the HALT project for young first offenders.

Spending on this policy areas varies strongly between municipalities. On average all municipalities together have budgeted 79 euro per inhabitant in 2006. The large municipalities expect to spend 112 euro per inhabitant on public order and safety, medium-sized municipalities 78 euro and small municipalities 59 euro.

The differences are also considerable between the largest cities: Rotterdam has set aside twice as much (251 euro) as Amsterdam (127 euro), and nearly three times as much as The Hague (89 euro).

The main reason for these differences is the relatively high spending by Rotterdam on surveillance and enforcement.

Municipal spending on public order and safety, per inhabitant and COROP area, 2006

Municipal spending on public order and safety, per inhabitant and COROP area, 2006

Less spent on income support

The costs of income support benefits are 0.3 billion euro lower in 2006, at 5.7 billion euro. This is the first time since 2001 that spending on income support benefits has deceased. Possible causes are the increase in employment and the effect of the law on work and income support which was introduced in 2004. Two-thirds of the decrease in 2006 is accounted for in the budgets of the three largest municipalities (Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague). The decrease is largely the consequence of a fall in the number of income support claims.

Spending on income support and education

Lower spending on education

The combined municipal education budget amounts to 4.5 billion euro. Spending on education has decreased by 0.4 billion euro since 2004. The main reason for this is that state education has become independent in more and more municipalities. State schools in these municipalities are now directly financed from central government coffers, and no longer through the municipalities.

Wouter Jonkers