Four percent rise in Dutch welfare recipients

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The number of welfare recipients in the Netherlands increased by 4 percent last year, according to figures Statistics Netherlands released on Tuesday. At the end of December 2016 the Netherlands counted a total of 467 thousand welfare recipients, 18 thousand more than December 2015.

The growth can mainly be attributed to non-Western immigrants, particularly asylum seekers who were given refugee status in the Netherlands last year. After being given a residency permits, refugees can apply for welfare. 

Since 2009 the number of welfare recipients in the Netherlands increased by about 163 thousand people. The growth was the strongest in 2013 when 32 thousand new people started claiming welfare. The increase was smaller in 2014 (21 thousand) and 2015 (15 thousand), but picked up again last year.

Among Dutch municipalities with at least 100 thousand residents, Rotterdam has relatively the most welfare recipients. In Rotterdam 96 per 1,000 residents are on welfare. Leeuwarden comes in second place with 82 per 1,000. Westland and Haarlemmermeer has proportionally the fewest welfare recipients with 20 and 21 per 1,000 residents respectively. The national average is 41 per 1,000 residents.