Amsterdam to pay extra benefits for people without legal residency

Arjan Vliegenthart 2
Amsterdam's Alderman for Work, Income and Participation, Arjan Vliegenthart (photo: City of Amsterdam). (Amsterdam's Alderman for Work, Income and Participation, Arjan Vliegenthart (photo: City of Amsterdam))

After a decision by the national government to reduce subsidies to households with at least one undocumented resident, the city of Amsterdam says it will help bridge the gap for struggling families. The city says that as of July 1 the Netherlands no longer counts undocumented people as dependents, meaning their expenses do not count in the official calculation of a household's expenses.

Alderman Arjan Vliegenthart called it "obviously unjust" in a statement released by the city. "Especially when child are at issue, I find the situation very painful," he said, suggesting that the new policy can push many families further into poverty.

To deal with the situation on a local level the city will pay the difference to the affected households. The city estimates the cost of the programme amounts to just over 190 thousand euros. In total, 59 Amsterdam families are affected by the policy.

"Unfortunately, these families are not the only ones to be hit hard by this unjust law," Vliegenthart, the city's alderman for work, income and participation, said referring to the Koppelingswet. The alderman called out the Dutch cabinet saying municipalities should not be on the forced to provide such assistance. Adding to the trouble is that, without residency papers, people cannot get legitimate work and have a harder time earning an independent income.

Among the hardest hit are household situations where a parent or legal guardian does not have residency. In those situations, the family also will not qualify for childcare subsidies that can dramatically reduce the monthly cost of daycare and after school programmes. Eighteen families in Amsterdam face that challenge.

Vliegenthart, a SP socialist party member, says the Amsterdam programme will be funded for one year, but hopes that the Dutch government better addresses the situation moving forward.