In 2007, the number of income support benefits declined markedly for the third year running. At the end of December, 275 thousand benefits were received, 27 thousand fewer than one year previously. The bulk of the reduction concerned long-term (twelve months or more) benefits. The latest figures published by Statistics Netherlands show that in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Emmen and Utrecht, the number of benefits dropped relatively rapidly.
Long-term benefits down by 27 thousand
The number of income support benefits was reduced by 27 thousand in 2007. The reduction was the same as in 2006, but the reduction in long-term (more than a year) benefits was more substantial than in 2006. Long-term income support benefits dropped 21 thousand in 2007, as against 15 thousand in 2006.
Results achieved by municipalities vary widely
Municipal authorities implement the Reformed Social Assistance Act (WWB). The results achieved in reducing the number of income support claimants varied widely. In ’s‑Hertogenbosch, Emmen and Utrecht, for instance, the reduction was more than 15 percent in 2007, as opposed to 9 percent nationwide. The number of benefits in the municipality of Haarlemmermeer remained the same. In the municipalities of Apeldoorn and Eindhoven, the reduction was marginal last year.
The reduction of the number of benefits in Amsterdam and Rotterdam was marginally below the nationwide average in 2007, whereas the reduction was however relatively strong in 2006. With 12 and 16 percent respectively, the reduction was above average in the other two major cities in the Netherlands, The Hague and Utrecht.
Other factors also important
With the introduction of the WWB in 2004, municipal authorities have more means at their disposal to reduce the number of income support claimants. The central government also stimulates people financially. The degree of success only partly depends on the policy pursued by municipal authorities and the economic situation. Other important factors are the level of education of the local population and the situation on the regional labour market.
In the agreement of mid-2007 between the central government and municipalities, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment and the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG) expressed their ambition to reduce the number of income support benefits by 75 thousand over the period 2007-2011.