Some 170,000 NL households not claiming welfare they're entitled to
About 170 thousand households in the Netherlands are entitled to social assistance, but do not make use of it. While the reasons for this vary, some are afraid of the bureaucratic hassle or of being accused of fraud. "The fraud policy is currently still strict. The focus on legality could put people off," the Social Affairs and Employment Inspectorate said in a report that will be presented to parliament this week, Trouw reports.
A total of about 490 thousand households in the Netherlands are entitled to social assistance. These are households with a lower monthly income than the social minimum. At 170 thousand, 35 percent of those who are entitled to assistance don't make use of it. The Inspectorate called this "worrying", also because this group is below the government's radar. "The municipalities spoken to indicate that they have little or no insight into the extent of non-use," the Inspectorate said. This means that the municipalities don't know how desperate these households' situation is.
Certain groups are over-represented among the non-users. 86 percent of self-employed persons who earn less than the social minimum don't claim benefits. The same is true for 70 percent of young people up to the age of 27, and 57 percent of migrants from European countries.
The reasons for not claiming likely vary by group, the Inspectorate said. Young people and migrants may not know they're entitled to social assistance or how to claim it. Self-employed persons are more afraid of the hassle and complexity. Especially with a variable income, the amount of a benefit is hard to calculate and there's a risk that they'll have to pay money back. Or maybe even be accused of fraud, the Inspectorate said.
The Landelijke Cliëntenraad, which represents people on social assistance, told Trouw that it is "not surprised, but shocked" by the figures. "We have known for a long time that it is not easy to get assistance," chairman Amma Asante said to the newspaper. "But 35 percent of non-use is really big. A benefit is a right, which many people who desperately need the money renounce. That is precisely why people need facilities like the Food Bank to survive and end up in debt."