Child benefit in Caribbean Netherlands now also for low-income families

If parliament gives its approval, parents with children under 18 in Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba will receive child benefit from next year. The move will make low-income families better off. 'In this way I want to help combat poverty in the Caribbean part of the Netherlands,' said Jetta Klijnsma, State Secretary for Social Affairs and Employment, who will present the bill to the House of Representatives today. 

Parents on the three islands can currently apply for a tax break for their children. However, those on low incomes derive little or no benefit from the present system. Because they pay little if any tax, they receive either no tax credit or only a small amount.

To solve this problem, the tax credit scheme will be replaced by child benefit from January 2016. Currently, the parents of 2,000 of the 5,000 children in Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba profit from the scheme. The new child benefit will apply to all 5,000 children.

The aim is to ensure that nobody is made worse off under the new system. The monthly child benefit has been set at $38 (approximately €34) per child. This is as high as the current tax credit in the most favourable case. The tax credit applies to a maximum of two children per family, while the new child benefit will be paid out for all children.

The monthly benefit amount may still change. If adjustments to tax and social security contributions make parents worse off than under the old system, the amount will be increased. It will also be indexed in the future.

A decision on the bill by the House of Representatives and Senate is still pending. The aim is to launch the child benefit system on 1 January 2016.