More Dutch workers live below poverty line
A growing group of working Dutch live in poverty, social and cultural planning office SCP said in a report published on Wednesday. In 2014 a total of 4.6 percent of Dutch workers, or 320 thousand people, lived below the poverty line, compared to 3.1 percent in 2001. Of these working poor, 175 thousand are employed and 145 thousand are self-employed, ANP reports.
For this report the SCP used the so-called not-much-but-sufficient criterion to define poverty. This standard is based on the minimum costs of housing, food, clothing and insurance, plus a small amount of pleasure and social activities. In 2014 this standard for a single person amounted to an income of 1,063 euros per month.
The group of working poor increased steadily in the Netherlands since 1990. Between 2001 and 2014 it increased from 3.1 percent to 4.6 percent. The start and low-point of the financial crisis fell in that period.
"In that period, the decline in purchasing power of employees due to lagging wage development is probably the most important reason that the share of working poor increased", the researchers said. "But the declining profits of the self-employed and rising unemployment in households also probably played a role after the turn of the century. The growth of the percentage of self-employed explains a smaller share of the increase."
The main reason for poverty among employed people is that they or others in their household do not work enough hours to generate sufficient income. Among self-employed, it is mainly because they earn too little per hour.
Self-employed without personnel, working single people, and working people with an immigration background, especially those with a Turkish or Moroccan background, run an increased risk of poverty, according to the researchers.
According to researchers, municipalities give relatively little attention to working poor in their policies. Many municipalities find it difficult to reach this group.
"Poverty among working people deserves our attention", State Secretary Tamara van Ark of Social Affairs and Employment said. This is one reason for the government's decision to reduce taxes for working people with a low income as of January 1st. That way, they have more spending money left over, Van Ark said. The government will also protect self-employed without personnel, considered vulnerable freelance workers, in order to limit the risk of poverty among this group.
Trade union FNV called this development "extremely worrying", according to the news wire. "Especially the high poverty among temporary workers and employees without fixed hours is noticeable, just like the growth in freelancers with too low hourly rates", vice president Tuur Elzinga said.