The principles of the social policy of the Netherlands
The social security system of the Netherlands is based on social insurances and supplementary income support provisions. The main principle of the system of the Netherlands is that all members of society must be able to play an equally active role in society.
Social rights and duties however are two sides of the same coin, which means that those who are capable to work must work. Among others, because participating as a working member of society is the best manner to avoid social exclusion. Certain groups however, may need support in finding their place in the labour market. Those groups include older people, the disabled, families on low income, ethnic and other minorities, the homeless, and those with addiction problems. For a detailed overview on the social Security system please visit the Issue Pensions and Benefits.
The local authorities are mainly responsible for social welfare, and they are increasingly opting for strategies at neighbourhood level, with integrated solutions to social and economic problems. The aim is to create flourishing communities, in which every resident feels involved.
Helping the young
The problems of school dropouts and youth unemployment are tackled by individually tailored education programmes and apprentice-type programmes which combine training and work.
The new Childcare Act makes it easier for mothers to return to work or to increase their working hours. Childcare capacity has increased substantially. Social welfare policy, too, should be aimed at creating an active and inclusive society: parents who are having problems raising their children or whose children are at risk of falling behind can also get help. And long-term unemployed people can be given help in tackling problems ranging from debt to psychological complaints. In April 2003, the government adopted the Equal Treatment of Disabled and Chronically Ill People Act. It protects disabled people from discrimination, helping them to take part in society.
Integration of minorities
Integration of minorities is one of today's most daunting political challenges. It is certainly one of the problems confronting Dutch society. But integration does not come easy. People of Turkish and Moroccan origin, for instance, are more likely to be unemployed than ethnic Dutch. So the government wants to encourage these groups to take part in society. Compulsory integration courses are also a means of preventing disadvantage. Shortly after arriving in the Netherlands, new immigrants now have to attend courses in Dutch language and society, and they receive help finding a job.
Keeping the social security system affordable
Another important political issue is the social security system. The demographics of a greying population mean that the number of over-65s in relation to the working population will rise sharply. If the Netherlands is to still have a social system in the future, it will need to activate people more strongly than before.
Reforms and cutbacks
At the start of the new millennium, there were nearly one million people receiving invalidity benefits. Major reforms have cut back the inflow of new recipients enormously and many claimants are now being reassessed with the focus on their capacity to work. Reintegrating invalidity benefit claimants who have now been found fully or partially fit for work is seen as an important priority.