Municipalities want to cut financial support to many Ukrainian refugees
The Security Council, the council of mayors that chair the Netherlands' 25 security regions, wants to cut financial support for Ukrainian refugees. “We are reaching the limits, and the end of the war is not in sight,” said Wouter Kolff, chairman of the Security Council and mayor of Dordrecht. According to him, Ukrainians opt for the Netherlands over other EU countries because our financial support scheme is better, NOS reports.
On Sunday night, the “Ukraine Hub” in the Jaarbeurs in Utrecht - one of two central points where Ukrainian refugees first come when arriving in the Netherlands - accommodated 186 people, while it only has room for 100. Typically, people spend one night in the hub before moving on to a municipal shelter, but “placement is becoming increasingly difficult,” Utrecht mayor Sharon Dijksma said in a letter to the city council.
“The occupancy in the Netherlands has been high for months, and it is necessary to look for new locations everywhere in the Netherlands. 99 percent of the places in the Netherlands are now occupied. The Jaarbeurs transfer location is becoming increasingly full,” Dijksma wrote.
There are currently 98,920 Ukrainian refugees registered in the Netherlands. Reception locations now have 82,890 beds, of which 81,983 are in use. The Ministry of Justice has asked the 25 security regions to increase the number of shelter spaces to 90,000 in the coming weeks and then to 97,000, but the increase is going very slowly, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice and Security told NOS.
Security Council chairman Kolff wants to lower the living allowance scheme for Ukrainian refugees. Ukrainians who work in the Netherlands may have their living allowance reduced but don’t lose their right to free shelter. They also fall under a broader support scheme than other asylum seekers. They can start working immediately, and until October 1, they also received a higher living allowance. As of October 1, the amounts were equalized to about 302 euros per month for a single person. A Ukrainian staying with a host family and not in a municipal shelter is also entitled to an additional allowance of 80 euros.
According to Kolff, some Ukrainian refugees travel to the Netherlands for this reason. “We increasingly see people in municipal shelters who come from Greece or Italy, for example, because they have heard that they get more money in the Netherlands,” he said.
“It is increasingly difficult to create shelter places, but it also puts pressure on, for example, healthcare and education in a municipality,” Kolff said. “We understand the urgency and, of course, we want to continue to accommodate these people, but we are now beyond crisis mode, and you have to look ahead.” Bringing the living allowance scheme in line with the other Member States will help relieve some of the pressure, he said. He also wants the government to return third-country nationals to their safe countries of origin. “That is an extra 3,000 places.”
Dijksma doesn’t necessarily want to cut the living allowance scheme. “We can make the policy in the Netherlands less attractive, but that will not be of any use to me for the coming night.” She wants the security regions to focus on creating more shelter spaces.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice and Security, which covers Asylum Affairs, told NOS that the level of support and facilities for Ukrainians in the Netherlands is comparable to the countries around us.