Sector organizations have mixed reactions to Dutch Cabinet's budget plans for 2023
The Cabinet’s plans for 2023 were met with mixed reactions from the various sectors in the Netherlands. The Public Prosecution Service is pleased with additional investments, but the police unions want more invested in staff shortages. Schools are happy with wage increases but need more to make their buildings more sustainable. The GGDs are satisfied with more money to fight infectious diseases but need more for prevention. Youth Care Netherlands feels the government has again forgotten young people in need.
With over 200 million euros invested in combating infectious diseases next year, the Cabinet shows confidence in the GGD municipal health services, said umbrella organization GGD GHOR Nederland. The coronavirus crisis made it “painfully clear” how vital a healthy population and the prevention of diseases are.
“At the same time, more investments are needed in other areas where GGDs carry out special prevention work,” the umbrella organization said. GGD GHOR Nederland also misses structural funding for youth health and forensic medicine in the budget. “The investments are also designed for the next one to two years. We would like to see future-orientated, more long-term financing to strengthen the GGDs.”
Youth Care is disappointed with the Cabinet’s plans. “In the speech from the throne and Budget, Dutch youth is once again forgotten,” the branch association for youth care, youth protection, and youth probation said. According to the organization, municipalities will only get some extra money next year, but “that does not mean that it will end up with youth care.”
Health insurers hammered on the importance of the affordability of healthcare in response to the Budget. It is crucial that people “can trust that good care will remain accessible to them and that premiums need to rise as little as possible, especially at this time,” said Zorgverzekeraars Nederland. The premiums for compulsory basic health insurance will increase by about 10 euros per month in the coming year. “Soon, people who can no longer afford groceries will also have to pay that higher premium. That is worrying,” said chairman Dirk Jan van den Berg.
The Council for the Judiciary is optimistic about the Cabinet’s plans to invest an additional 155 million euros per year into recruiting more judges, digitization, innovation, and handling lawsuits against organized crime, among other things. “The Cabinet also announced today that the court fees for citizens and small and medium-sized businesses will be reduced, and the fee for social lawyers will increase,” said Henk Naves, chairman of the Council. “In this way, the Cabinet shows that it considers the maintenance of our constitutional state important.”
The Public Prosecution Service called it a good thing that the Cabinet is investing in the criminal justice chain and tackling organized crime and cybercrime. “These investments are necessary to make the Public Prosecution Service and the criminal justice chain future-proof in the coming years, among other things, by recruiting and training 250 new public prosecutors.”
Police union ACP is disappointed that the Cabinet did not heed the police unions’ call to invest 317 million euros into eliminating the staff shortages at the police. “Not a euro has been added compared to the coalition agreement,” said Maarten Brink of the ACP. “The current investments by the government mean an expansion of the police’s tasks.” That will only make existing staff shortages worse. “Hard choices will have to be made. Shortages in the police eventually end up at the foundation. The neighborhood teams and the investigation teams will crumble further, and citizens can no longer expect the help they should expect from the police.”
The measures to compensate for the high energy bill are insufficient for people with extra energy costs due to a disability or chronic illness, said the network organization for people with a disability or chronic illness Ieder(in). Things like an electric wheelchair or medical equipment increase energy costs. People with disabilities also more often have financial problems, partly due to an uncertain income and high healthcare and support costs. “Many people with a disability are completely stuck and can’t make any further cutbacks.” She said the Cabinet must quickly present targeted measures.
The Cabinet did not mention the rising costs for secondary schools in the Budget, said umbrella organization VO-Raad. Schools are spending more on energy and inflation. According to VO-Raad, the government also paid little attention to students’ mental health in the budget plans.
The organization for primary schools, PO-Raad, regrets that the Cabinet made no money available for refurbishing outdated school buildings. “Because we have to offer education in buildings that have long been written off, knowledge is also leaking away in addition to energy,” said chairman Freddy Weima. The PO-Raad is pleased that the agreements about salary increases have been incorporated into the budget. Primary school teachers now earn as much as their secondary school peers. “This budget underlines that once again. We can be proud that this has been achieved after much insistence.”
The government’s plan to reimburse 96 percent of childcare costs is good news for people with the lowest incomes, said sector organization BMK. Parents will soon only pay 4 percent of childcare costs. The high compensation should make it easier for parents to work more. “It makes childcare affordable and easy for all parents and ensures that more work really pays off. All working parents now benefit, which is good for the labor market as a whole,” said chairman BMK.
The other association in the sector BK expects the Cabinet’s plans to increase the demand for childcare. But the sector also faces staff shortages, so those extra spaces won’t just appear. “In 2031, we will need 50,000 extra employees. If we do everything we can to recruit and retain people, we can find 21,000 people in the most favorable scenario,” said director Emmeline Bijlsma. “The only effect of this is longer waiting lists. Many parents will be caught without childcare in the future.”
Higher education is pleased with the planned investments for education. Universities of the Netherlands said “heavy investments are being made,” and the Association of Universities of Applied Sciences spoke of “steps in the right direction.”
Reporting by ANP