The number of people on welfare is declining, but food banks are getting busier

A box for a one-man household (Nijmegen Food Bank). Photo: RN7

REGION – The number of people on welfare in the Rijk van Nijmegen has fallen in the last year. In Nijmegen municipality, the total decline has fallen by about six percent to about 6,900 people entitled to social assistance by the end of 2021. In the other municipalities in the region you can also see a decline, but it is less strong. Striking: Despite this trend, food banks are seeing an increase in the number of people not doing well financially at the end of the month.

Beuningen municipality states that the number of people on social assistance in the last quarter of 2020 was 412, and that there were only 406 in the last quarter of 2021. “We believe that this decrease is partly due to employment, which among other things. . has increased. In 2021, residents will have more opportunities to go to work. On the other hand, we see that WerkBedrijf’s services are increasingly aimed at specific target groups such as (care) young people and people with disabilities. “

In the municipality of Overbetuwe, there is also a decrease in the number of social benefits: The year 2020 ended with 587 benefits; by the end of 2021, the counter ‘still’ stood at just 567 benefits. “This decline is due to the fact that we have an active and efficient reintegration approach. This, in combination with a large supply of jobs, has led to a decrease in the total number of benefits, «explains a spokesman for the municipality.

Dynamics in the file

For the municipality of Wijchen, the number of households on social assistance peaked in September 2020, namely 733 households. That was a few months after the first closure at the end of March 2020. By the end of December 2021, however, this figure had dropped to 685. “A fairly stable total number of households on maintenance does not mean that there is little or no dynamics in the case: A total of 213 new social benefits were granted in Wijchen in 2020. In the same year, a total of 192 benefits were terminated. ”

Finally, in Druten municipality there is a decrease of about 3% compared to 2020. At the end of 2020, the municipality still had about 269 people on development assistance; By the end of 2021, there were 260. According to the municipality, one of the reasons why the number of people eligible for assistance has not fallen more – despite the lack of the labor market – is the problem of mismatch between supply and demand. “We are constantly looking for initiatives that counteract this. One of the initiatives is the project ‘Opportunity Professions’, where education and entrepreneurs are invested in longer training and work processes.”

However, the decline in the number of aid applicants in the municipalities does not mean that fewer people now have problems reaching the end of the month. The food bank Nijmegen-Overbetuwe announced as early as the end of April that the number of customers had increased by 15% in four weeks.

Whether you are eligible for help from the food bank depends on how much you have left each month for food and clothing. The food bank adds up all income and deducts fixed costs. Think about rent, water and light. This leaves an amount for groceries and clothing. Is this amount lower than the standard amount used by the organization? Then you may be eligible for a package. For 2022, the standard amounts per month for a single person are, for example, 250 euros per month, for a single person with one child 350 euros and for a family with two children 550 euros per month.

Due to rising prices, more people are joining the Food Bank

“By mid-March, 658 people were using the food bank. That number has now increased to 743 customers, ”explains volunteer Sasja Kamil. “About ten families are from Ukraine, and the rest are probably due to rising prices.” They also see an increase at Fødevarebanken Wijchen & Beuningen, although it is not as high as in the neighboring municipalities. “In our food bank, it has been fairly constant since January 1, in terms of families making use of food aid,” says Peter Coolen.

“We can see a small increase for Wijchen: We have gone from 105 to 110 packages per week in this municipality. In Beuningen we are now at 75 packages per week.” There are a total of 550 people in both municipalities. “The reason for signing up is generally because people do not have enough money to buy enough food,” Coolen explains. “People who are in administration receive weekly allowances and this has no bearing on the energy cost level. In my opinion, therefore, it simply takes longer before their debts are paid off.”

‘Inflation and higher energy costs demand a lot from households’

Nibud showed already in February that especially households with low income and high rents, high energy or high health expenses, are having a hard time financially. “We see that this inflation requires a lot of households. It is precisely products that can not be avoided that have become more expensive, such as groceries and heating. That makes it so difficult for millions of households, “says Nibud director Arjan Vliegenthart. He encourages low-income households with high energy bills to report to their municipality for energy compensation.

For help with debt or (imminent) poverty, you can visit this website, which provides an overview of help per. commune.

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