4.8 Current debates and reforms
On the annual Budget Day, every third Tuesday in September, the government announces its plans for the coming year, described in the Budget Memorandum. Here you will find brief outlines of the Budget Memorandum (in English) and a summary of the Budget Memorandum (in Dutch) for 2022.
On Budget Day 2021, Government was outgoing, as the formation of a new cabinet was still in process after the national elections of March 2021. Therefore the Budget Memorandum presented did not contain major policy changes, except for some targeted investments. Social inclusion related developments and investments for the year 2022 onwards are summarized in this paragraph.
Coronacrisis related measures
The Budget Memorandum for 2022 states that the coronacrisis has hit vulnerable groups in Dutch society harder: school pupils, young people, the lower educated, employees with flexible labour agreements, people with a migration background and people with labour disabilities. For example, young people have had a harder time due to school closures and uncertainty about their job prospects. Pupils from a lower socio-economic background have caught up less on school after schools reopened. The lower educated in general have a higher chance of a serious course of corona disease, have fewer opportunities to work from home and have less job security. The latter also applies to employees without permanent labour agreements.
Cabinet has launched the National Programme Education (Nationaal Programma Onderwijs) in 2021 aimed at the recovery and development of education, catching up on study delays and the support of pupils and students struggling mentally. See also paragraph 3.6. Additional measures were taken to tackle youth unemployment, through an extension of the Action Plan Youth Unemployment (Aanpak Jeugdwerkloosheid). Specific attention is given to pupils in practical education and special secondary education, recently graduated secondary vocational education students and school drop-outs. Read more about these measures in paragraphs 3.2 and 3.6. Furthermore, the Budget Memorandum mentions the grant programme ‘NL continues to learn’ (NL leert door), wherein (self-)employed people and jobseekers of 18 years and over are offered training, guidance and career development advice free of charge.
In the future differences between employees with permanent and flexible labour agreements should be reduced to create more job security. The connection between education and work should be further improved as well.
Low income households in the Netherlands are entitled to healthcare benefits, rent benefits, supplementary child benefits and/or childcare benefits. In recent history a large number of childcare benefit recipients have become victims of the strict approach of the Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingdienst). False allegations of fraud resulted in forced repayment of entire allowances, which drove families into severe financial hardship.
Cabinet has taken further measures in the giant operation to recover the mistakes of the Tax and Customs Administration and to compensate its victims. The Budget Memorandum for 2022 announces that compensation will be extended to children, ex-partners of victims and victims of similar failure regarding other benefits. Short-term improvements of the benefit system will be executed by the outgoing cabinet. Larger revisions will be decided upon by the new cabinet.
The present system of healthcare benefits, rent benefits, supplementary child benefits and childcare benefits is too complicated, according to the outgoing cabinet. A simpler benefit system should give households more financial security. Minimum wages should be increased as well.
Other social inclusion related measures
More measures that also apply to young people are introduced in the Budget Memorandum for 2022:
- Tax-reduction measures are aimed at citizens with social minimum incomes, single-income households, families and social housing corporations.
- Paid parental leave will be extended, in accordance with a new European guideline, which enables employed parents to combine work and care for children.
- A reform agenda for the Dutch youth care system is prepared by Government, the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (Vereniging van Nederlandse Gemeenten; VNG), care providers, client organisations and professionals in order to offer all children, young people and families appropriate care when needed ánd to keep the system financially manageable. The new cabinet will decide about future adjustments to the Child and Youth Act. See also paragraph 1.2.
The Budget Memorandum for 2022 describes additional developments that will not be addressed by the outgoing cabinet, but will need to be concentrated on in the near future:
- The Dutch educational level is under pressure. Not all pupils can keep up with their peers and educational results lag behind internationally. The number of teachers as well as the quality of teaching and school management should be enhanced.
- Cabinet states that a shift from illness and care providing to health and care prevention is needed. This will also increase people’s ability to work and will give children an equal start. Improved educational quality, working conditions and housing quality are expected to contribute to a healthier population too.