THE HAGUE–Many residents of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba are struggling to make ends meet. On Tuesday, the Dutch government announced on Budget Day that the expenses for employers in the Caribbean Netherlands will decrease by five per cent. This makes it possible to increase the minimum wage and social benefits by the same percentage.
“It is extremely important that people are able to spend more, because the cost of food, drink and housing are high. At the same time, I want to make sure that being in a job yields more than being on welfare,” said State Secretary of Social Affairs and Labour Tamara van Ark.
By lowering the employers’ contributions from 18.4 per cent to 13.4 per cent, the cost of employment is reduced. As a result of this, the minimum wage can be increased. Social benefits such as welfare, widows and orphans pension AWW and old age pension AOV will increase accordingly with the minimum wage.
This measure is a sequel to previous steps that were announced earlier this year. The Dutch Cabinet wants to ensure that vulnerable groups such as single pensioners, people completely and permanently unable to work and (single) parents with children will benefit.
Welfare for people who live on their own, for example, will increase by January 1, 2019. In addition, from that moment on, more people will have access to special assistance, because the Cabinet will increase the income limit to 120 per cent of the minimum wage. The child benefit will increase by 50 per cent in 2019 as well.
The Cabinet said it will introduce compensation for people who live on their own and are unable to work, if possible as of January 2020. On that same date the Cabinet wants to increase the benefit for people who are completely and permanently unable to work.
State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops and State Secretary Van Ark are to inform the Dutch Parliament’s Second Chamber annually, before the summer recess, on the progress of all actions taken.
In 2020 the Cabinet wants to evaluate the effect of measures taken before deciding whether additional measures will be required.