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Wrapping chewing gum for social assistance

5 February 2007 - Social assistance recipient Jeffrey Babcock had to wrap Hema chewing gum in paper and stack plastic items in a warehouse with no windows. After that, he heard nothing from the social assistance agency. His story features in an article on the so-called ‘work first’ approach, to be published in the February edition of monthly magazine Mug.

Since the introduction of the new Social Assistance and Work Act (WWB) in 2004, municipalities have a financial interest in keeping the number of social assistance recipients as low as possible. They therefore adopt a stricter approach, often in the form of work first programmes.

Babcock: “It felt like a punishment. In an Eastern bloc country”. He was given no guidance, let alone help with job applications. “A counsellor from the Work and Income Department was assigned to me, and she would come over for weekly meetings. I have seen her three times in three months”.

Piet van der Lende of the Bijstandsbond, an organisation of social assistance recipients, says in the article (by Michiel Wetzer) that Babcock’s complaints are consistent with the results of a survey among participants in work first programmes he has done.

See also: Triple premium for chasing unemployed away


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