Report on the Netherlands and Universal Basic Income

Updates from Vereniging Basisinkomen (BIEN-Netherlands), Spring 2017


On 15 March 2017 elections were held for the second chamber in the Netherlands. Many watched in fear that there would be move towards “the wrong populism” as the prime minister called it. This outcome was avoided.

There was less attention to the development with respect to Basic Income. Supporters tended to be disappointed by the fact that none of the parties that were strongly in favour of the policy wouldget a representative in the chamber in the coming years. Several parties in favour of Basic Income were in the race to be elected and secure a representative in the chamber, but all were ultimately unsuccessful, including Vrijzinnige Partij (VP, Liberal Party), De Burger Beweging (DBB, The Citizens Movement), Piraten (Pirate Party), Lokale partij (LidK, Local Parties together), BIP/PvdK/V&R (Basic Income Party, Party for the interest of Children and the Party for Freedom and Right, respectively, who operated in a joint venture), and the Greens (not to be confused with Green Left).

However, Alexander de Roo, the current chairman of the Vereniging Basisinkomen, BIEN’s affiliate in the Netherlands, takes it with a smile and proposes to look at the overall figures:

Let’s see when we put together all parties that are left and/or progressive (in a broad sense), i.e. Left: Green Left (GL, 14), Socialist Party (SP, 14), the Labour Party (PvdA, 9).Progressive: Democrats 66 (D66, 19), Party for the Animals (PvdD, 5). In total 61 seats in the chamber from now on. (With a little bit of wishful thinking we could count the Christian Party (CU, 5) and Denk (3) to it and reach a total of 69 seats.)

To the right: The Liberals (VVD, 33), Christian Democrats (CDA, 19), the populist Parties (Wilders, 20), Forum for Democrats (2), 50+ Party (4). In total 81 seats.


Given these figures, he proposes to cooperate with the PvdD, GL, and D66 in an effort to keep the Basic Income on the political agenda.


In the meantime, there have been several developments in the Netherlands since the beginning of 2017.


1. In January, Terneuzen – a community of around 54,770 inhabitants in the Province Zeeland – reached the news headlines because of an initiative of a City Council Member for an experiment to remove conditions on public assistance. The experiment would involve the removal of some rules and regulations for a group of recipients of it in a Terneuzen neighbourhood. This initiative was quickly swept from the table by the government, however, based on the stipulations in the Participation Law (see:


2. In preparation for the elections of the 15 March, Vereniging Basisinkomen made a videoclip to attract more public attention to Basic Income:

YouTube player


3. In February, the Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB) published its report about the internalization of costs of the election programmes. Amongst them, the election programme of the VP (a new and very small liberal party) contains a proposal for a Basic Income in the amount of € 800 per month. The report presents Basic Income as a very high expense, which would result in insufficient funding for social security and high tax increases. The VP replied in detail in its publication “Comments on CPB report”. Unfortunately, the VP did not get enough votes to be represented in the chamber.


4. In an effort to design a better scheme for realising an UBI, a “mini symposium” was organized for 10 March 2017. The decision was made to work towards a colloquium on the feasibility of a UBI with experts from different political backgrounds and representatives of the press.

The paper “Basic Income feasible and affordable” was produced as a result of the symposium.


5. As a new campaign item, Vbi has made stickers to put on coins to gain more public awareness of Basic Income.










Cover image: The Binnenhof, CC BY-SA 2.0 Christopher A. Dominic

THE NETHERLANDS: Four municipalities have to make a uniform plan for basic income pilot projects

THE NETHERLANDS: Four municipalities have to make a uniform plan for basic income pilot projects

The Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs wants cities who are interested in experimenting with basic income to come up with a common plan.

The municipalities of Utrecht, Tilburg, Groningen and Wageningen will jointly submit a ‘ uniformly ‘ plan ‘ before they can get permission for their experiments, including ‘ free money ‘. That has a spokesman of the Ministry of Social Affairs Wednesday evening told.  This summer it became known that Utrecht, Tilburg, Groningen and Wageningen did want to set up experiments around social security payments.

According to the municipalities the current rules for the social security are too rigid and they work sometimes counter-productively. There would be too many re-integration and interview obligations with high penalties, such as suspension of the benefit. Customization is not possible and the municipality would have lost a lot of time with the controls.

For this reason, the four municipalities do want to give some of their social assistance receivers an unconditional social security payment – what they call a ‘ basic income ‘-, i.e. a monthly income of the Government without an obligation to take paid employment, to be involved in community service. Persons entitled to this assistance may also reserve their extra earnings. Tilburg, Utrecht, Groningen and Wageningen want to examine whether this group will become more active than others with the current, strict regime.

The four municipalities spoke with to PvdA-Jetta Klijnsma State Secretary of Social Affairs  during a ‘ first ‘ conversation to get approval for the experiments. Admittedly the current “Participatiewet” (=participation law, to which the social assistance belongs) allow some ‘room for experiment’, but that seems not spacious enough for what Tilburg, Utrecht, Wageningen and Groningen are heading for. Klijnsma now wants that the four municipalities come up with a common, unambiguous proposal, because their ideas are still far apart. Tilburg for example is planning a four years experiment in cooperation with the University, while Utrecht goes out of a year. Utrecht also wants, in addition to providing a basic income to some social assistance receivers and to compare the results of it with the results in other groups in which they use positive incentives. One of this groups will for example be rewarded with a bonus if they (volunteer) work.

A follow-up appointment with Klijnsma is planned in the first half of November this year. Then they will try on the basis of a new proposal to come to an agreement about the possibly stretching of the experiment space in the Participatiewet. In the meantime there is much discussion about the basic income in the Netherlands. Proponents commend on the aim to give social assistance receivers an unconditional social security payment as a means to free the recipients of the restrictions and humiliations they have to suffer and think that this freedom will lead to creativity. Opponents, such as the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB), warn that it will be prohibitive to give everyone a ‘basic income’ and thinks it will discourage the people who get it to be active.

Ria Cats, “Four municipalities have to make a uniform plan for ‘ free money ‘ “. Financieel Dagblad, September 23, 2015.

De Gelderlander, “State Secretary of Social Affairs ask for additional research welfare experiment Wageningen” De Gelderlander, September 27, 2015.