Language learning on social assistance benefit

The government is requiring recipients of social assistance benefit to improve their Dutch language skills and thus boost their chances of finding a job. This measure had already been announced in the coalition agreement. Following a proposal from Jetta Klijnsma (State Secretary for Social Affairs and Employment), the cabinet has agreed to submit an amendment to the Work and Social Assistance Act on this subject to the House of Representatives.

'The point is that people must be able to express themselves and be understood at work and in their day-to-day lives,' said Ms Klijnsma.

If a social assistance recipient has a command of Dutch that is so limited as to make them virtually incapable of finding a job, the municipality will oblige them to learn Dutch within a reasonable period of time. The recipient will have to attain the level of proficiency required by the Civic Integration Act.

No one will be excluded from social assistance benefit without notice. But, as with other obligations that municipalities can impose on social assistance recipients, failure to comply may affect the amount of the benefit. If a recipient demonstrably makes no effort to attain the required level of proficiency, the benefit may be reduced or even discontinued. The municipalities will of course always take account of the individual circumstances of social assistance recipients.