The Netherlands: Dutch Labour ministers reject Basic Income as part of solution for older unemployment in the Netherlands
Lodewijk Asscher and Jetta Klijnsma (composition). Credit to: Wikipedia.
Lodewijk Asscher and Jetta Klijnsma, the Minister and the Secretary, respectively, for the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment in the Netherlands, have dismissed the idea that a Basic Income could form part of a solution to deal with the increasing levels of unemployment amongst older people in the country.
Answering questions on the Radar Extra documentary ‘Chance of Work: 3 percent’, which investigated the high rates of unemployment amongst the over 55s and their difficulty in returning to the world of work, the ministers accepted that the unemployment rate was too high, but rejected the notion that an older unemployed person had only a 3 percent chance of returning to work. They claimed instead that “the chance of finding work is significantly greater… and will increase further with an improving economy and additional government measures”, adding further that, according to a paper published by the UWV (Employee Insurance Agency) in May 2017, 35 percent of those receiving unemployment benefit over the age of 55 return to work within a year.
When it was suggested by the interviewers that a Basic Income might allow the older unemployed to contribute to society in a different way, the ministers stated that “unconditional basic income is not a realistic or economically viable option”, reasoning that “regardless of the cost, as basic income increases so labour supply decreases, supplementing a low wage economy”. They also explained that Basic Income did not fit with the party’s political ambitions, which are built around a focus on “increasing employment” and a “commitment to participation”, the result of which, they believe, will offer people “a social network, self-confidence and opportunities for development”.
The extent to which these comments will be concerning for Basic Income proponents is unclear, however, given the heavy losses the Labour Party suffered in the March 2017 elections, which saw support plummet from 38 to just 9 seats, seventh place in the final standings. Though a government has yet to form, the prospect of the Labour Party participating in a coalition, therefore, seems remote. In addition, Jetta Klijnsma, the likely outgoing Secretary for the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, has recently authorized for 5 municipalities to carry out Basic Income experiments. The Radar Extra petition to experiment with Basic Income in over 55s has also already been signed by over 70,000 people.
A full transcript of the Radar Extra interview with the two ministers can be found here.
More information at:
Menno de Vries, “WW’ers vaker aan het werk [Unemployed more often at work]”, May 2017
“Petitie basisinkomen 55-plussers [Basic Income petition for people older than 55 years old]”, Radar, 2017
“VVD wins 33 seats but coalition partner Labour is hammered”, DutchNews.nl, 16th March 2017
Kate McFarland, “THE NETHERLANDS: Government authorizes social assistance experiments in first five municipalities”, Basic Income News, 11th July 2017
Pedro Alves, “Netherlands: Basic Income petition in the Netherlands for people over 55 years old was signed more than 50000 times”, Basic Income News, 6th July 2017