Five Dutch cities have been given the go-ahead to experiment with social welfare payments. They want to ease regulations for some recipients in a bid to help the long-term unemployed to rejoin the workforce. The initiative does not go as far as introducing the basic income demanded by leftist parties, however. Dutch papers take different views of the plan.
A question of one's conception of man
Too bad the experiment doesn't include a basic income, columnist Bert Wagendorp criticises in De Volkskrant:
“The [right-wing liberal] VVD and [Christian democratic] CDA fear that welfare recipients who are no longer obliged to look for work will become totally lethargic and only get off the couch to go to the supermarket to buy a crate of beer or a pack of cigarettes. ... The [left-liberal] D66, however, wants a basic income for all. ... It believes that far from turning people into parasites this will make them more active. The representatives of D66 have a more positive image of man than the Christian democrats and conservatives. ... For these two parties free money is only acceptable in the form of bonus payouts or as the result of clever tax tricks.”
State support must not be for free
De Telegraaf, on the other hand, is relieved that the basic idea of social welfare is not being called into question:
“Those who receive welfare benefits must meet certain requirements, for example they must apply for jobs on a regular basis. Many recipients find that very stressful. But it's only logical that receiving state support should be tied to stringent criteria. ... Attempts to modernise the welfare system in such a way that recipients can put their dependency behind them are welcome. ... But there must be no talk of turning welfare benefits into a sort of basic income. The new government needs to make work more worthwhile. Excessively lenient rules on welfare benefits won't help in that regard.”