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The EU Level Supporters Group – Open to organisations and actors committed to ensuring adequate and accessible Minimum Income Schemes
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Basic Income experiments in Dutch municipalities?
In several cities in the Netherlands discussion meetings are organized to see how the overall opinion about an experiment with an unconditional social assistance is.
An experiment with …? Yes this is about an experiment that is brought as a pilot for a Basic Income by the city of Utrecht. This experiment has the format of an unconditional social assistance (benefit).
The political party GroenLinks (Green Left) claims to be the first party that advocated at national level for a Basic Income. The confusion however was clear from the start. They are talking about making the social assistance benefit free of duties for a certain time (12-24 months) to see whether the participants will find some paid work of they are free of obligations.
This is clearly not a Basic Income as it is defined.
Why would communities want to experiment with such a benefit policy?
Is it to free them from the trap of the Participatory Law (social assistance), in which they are caught by the latest changes? Especially seen the amount of work that DSS’s are overburdened by, it might be a reason to bring these changes in to practice? Is it not true that the initiative for the intended experiment in Utrecht came from the DSS?
I ask myself: “Why would municipalities like to experiment with an Unconditional Basic Income?”
Is it all about people? Individuals?
It does need to involve a group of people that is convinced that the current facilities are inadequate. Some see the current cultural climate as one of laziness or apathy on the one hand, and the law of the jungle on the other. The power of money creates that everybody is suffering? Both the “haves” and “have-nots” ? The production and consumption compulsion? The human dimension is missing within the current cultural climate with all the social and health consequences (see “Spirit Level” by Richard Wilkinson, 2009)?
Since a long time a group of people has been convinced that a full Unconditional Basic Income can be the solution. But it makes no sense to engage in a contest of who has come first with the idea. The group that carried the torch through the ages, has come together and now strives for the realization of this idea. That group is looking for a way to work it out by established multidisciplinary research under the guidance of experts. Seeing at the same time that opponents argue about it and feel now that it actually makes sense? Knowing that government support is needed also because it needs changes in the financial and social system that we can hardly keep functioning?
Why should a experiment with a Respectable Basic Income, as a variety next to all the government changes made in education, health care, taxation, infrastructure (railways), road building, construction and privatization where experiments, that must be constantly updated, are used, not include a lesson for the future? It is clear that an experiment or several experiments should be based on good research and afterwards be properly evaluated.
This is what it should be about. Creating an experiment with a Respectable Basic income is a matter for the whole community. That we should want all together. And if wanted, indeed extended what it delivers to adjust the circle of participants in this experiment(s). Maybe even concentrated in a lifelong term experiment, to be adjusted where, when and how required.
This article is written by the Secretary of the Dutch Assosiation of Basic Income, Ad Planken and changed a bit for translation.
Jo Bothmer, coördinator EMIN 2 Netherlands
A different form of a Basic Income in the Netherlands?
The municipality of Utrecht starts Monday, the 1st of May 2017, with an experiment in which a group of beneficiaries on social assistance is given less rules. The main rule to be deleted is the requirement to look and apply for a job. The aim is to investigate whether people will find more easily paid work this way.
Within the social assistance law there are strict rules and duties to apply, for example, to job applications and work. According to Alderman Victor Everhardt, responsible for Work and Income in Utrecht, the system is based on distrust.
“The question is whether such a control system is the best way to stimulate people in social assistance. What happens if we release some commitments and put the initiative to people themselves?” he asks.
The idea is that for some people all the rules and obligations make it even more difficult to get to paid work. Therefore, a pilot starts where 500 to 1000 people volunteer to participate in a 2-year experiment.
They are selected by lottery and then divided into five groups. The rules and obligations differ by group. For example, a group receives a monthly fee of 125 euros if they perform a job for the municipality 8 hours a week, others receive additional guidance. For everyone one thing is the same, they no longer have to apply for a job.
Other cities are following
This allows researchers to see which approach works best. The main question is whether people get faster out of social assistance or rather find themsleves in doing voluntary work. They also look at the effect on health, debt and satisfaction with their situation.
Utrecht is the first, but many more cities have plans for a similar test. Initially, the municipalities wanted to go one step further and allow people to earn without sacrificing their benefits. However, the Ministry of Social Affairs has put a lid on this idea.
Petition for a Basic Income presented to the Dutch Parliament
A petition organized by television program Radar that calls for a trial to give people over 55 a basic income has been signed more than 117,000 times. The petition is presented to the House of Representatives.
Radar started the initiative in May 2017. According to the consumer program, older people looking for a job are often despondent from all rejections on letters, and should therefore receive a basic income.
Stress and discouragement
In the petition, the initiators write that it is very difficult for people aged 55 and over, to get paid work, and that applying constantly leads to a lot of ‘stress and discouragement’.
If the elderly were to receive a benefit as standard, without any commitments, according to Radar and the 117,000 signatories it would be easier to start their own business or take on part-time work.
1000 euros per month
If it is up to the signatories, an experiment will be started shortly with an ‘unconditional and guaranteed income’ for people over 55. As an example for the test, they propose a group of 2000 over-55s who receive 1000 euros per month.
The aim of the trial is, among other things, to find out whether people with a basic income will work more or less, or whether it makes a difference in healthcare costs, whether people will do more volunteer work and whether they will become happier.
Unemployment 4.7 percent
Unemployment in the Netherlands has fallen sharply in recent years, but older people benefit less from the improving economy. The decline in unemployment in the 45 to 75-year-old group flattens in the last year, according to figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics.
Nevertheless, older employees are still considerably better than young people. Youth unemployment stands at around 9 percent. 4.7 percent of the elderly are looking for a paid job.