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Olaf van Vliet in Trouw on temporary extra money to people on social assistance

What would happen if families with little money were to receive an extra amount every month with no conditions attached? Would it help with their worst financial problems? In order to find out, the municipality of Amsterdam will conduct an experiment with 300 families over the next two years. During that time, the families will receive a net monthly sum of 150 euros in addition to their benefits.

Olaf van Vliet, Professor of Economics at Leiden University, is curious to find out whether this experiment will work: ‘It basically increases their benefits. For years, amounts for social assistance have risen less compared to wages, so in real terms benefits have actually been decreasing.’ This decrease in benefits could be due to the fact that people on social assistance are poorly organised and form a small group from an electoral perspective.

Having little money can cause stress, social isolation, difficulty getting a job, and often health issues. An extra 150 euros could make a difference according to Van Vliet. ‘The extra money could soften the financial blow, which in turn could allow people to have less worries about their financial situation and focus on their future. That could even help more people out of poverty.’

Recent research , which Van Vliet was part of, showed that the Dutch are relatively positive towards gifts to people on social assistance. However, they do believe that these people are obliged to seek work in return  – and that sanctions should be imposed as well. ‘But those sanctions cannot be too severe’, says Van Vliet. ‘So, on balance, the Dutch are willing to contribute to generous social assistance.’

Read the article in Dutch newspaper Trouw.

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