Pandemic increasing inequality in Netherlands: Mayors
The coronavirus crisis is causing a massive increase in problems in poorer neighborhoods like educational delays, poverty, domestic violence, unemployment and undermining crime, according to 15 mayors in a manifesto they will hand to the government on Tuesday. The pandemic is increasing the dichotomy in society and the inequality of opportunities, they said, calling on te government to help them invest more in vulnerable areas, NOS reports.
With vulnerable areas, the mayors mean neighborhoods with may residents who need help and support, like people without a job, people with psychological problems, or people living in poverty. These groups are particularly affected by the crisis, the mayors said. "Consider for example the increased tensions within families where many problems come together, in a small home with little safe (outside) space. Mental health problems such as stress, anxiety and depression are increasing, due to the uncertainty about their own health, but also due to the uncertainty about the future perspective of children, young people and adults."
The mayors listed several suggestions of where extra investments can help in vulnerable neighborhoods. To fight the backlogs in education caused by the coronavirus crisis, they suggest setting up summer schools, increasing school career guidance, and extra teaching hours next school year. To reduce the teacher shortage in these neighborhoods, the mayors call for higher salaries for teachers who teach there. They want more sports and exercise activities for children and teens, and more encouragement for teens to get involved in neighborhood activities.
For adults, the mayors want debt counseling to be more accessible - deploy more experts so that results can be achieved more quickly. Debts must also be signaled early to protect those who have them against falling into crime as a solution. More attention for housing fraud and nuisance will help contribute to a better quality of life, the mayors said. And people who lost their jobs due to the coronavirus crisis should be given priority on the labor market, they said.
"It is important not to shun unorthodox measures. This is the only way to prevent a lost generation from growing up, crime increasing and the divide in our society widening," the mayors said.
The manifesto was signed by mayors Femke Halsema of Amsterdam, Ahmed Marcouch of Arnhem, Paul Depla of Breda, Johan Remkes of The Hague, John Jorritsma of Eindhoven, Koen Scuiling of Groningen, Emile Roemer of Heerlen, Sybrand van Hearsma Buma of Leeuwarden, Ina Adema of Lelystad, Frans Backhuis of Nieuwegein, Ahmed Aboutaleb of Rotterdam, Cor Lamers of Schiedam, Theo Weterings of Tilburg, Jan van Zanen of Utrecht, and Jan Hamming of Zaanstad.