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People without social assistance disappear from sight

12 April 2008 - Amsterdam should investigate what happens to people who are deterred by the stricter approach of the welfare agency, to prevent them getting into trouble. This is argued by Roel Jansen of FNV Lokaal Amsterdam, the local branch of the largest trade union federation. The FNV recently published a study of the social policies of over 200 municipalities.

Amsterdam spends relatively much on anti-poverty measures and makes an effort to ensure that the money actually reaches the people it is intended for, the study reveals. Amsterdam spends on average 1,145 euro per low-income household; the national average is 624 euro.

In many cities, most recipients of income support are clients of the welfare agency who also receive social assistance. Amsterdam is more successful at reaching other groups such as the elderly and the working poor.

The city's efforts to help people find durable employment are less successful. Thirty-seven percent of people who leave social assistance return to the welfare agency within a year. The national average is 22%.

The FNV further says that the municipality should investigate what happens to people who are deterred by the stricter approach of the welfare agency. Studies in other cities revealed that many quitters find work or return to school, but that there are also some who engage in criminal activities or collect debts.

"We must prevent vulnerable people getting into trouble", says Jansen. "Therefore, we're going to ask the municipality to conduct an investigation, just as cities such as Groningen and the Hague have done".

Since the previous edition of the FNV study, Amsterdam has expanded its education programme for job seekers. The municipality further plans to introduce social contracting and to improve the support for people with incomplete old age pensions (AOW).

FNV study (in Dutch). Image: welfare agency man, a character used in information material on income support


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