Making ends meet is becoming a difficult task for more and more people now that inflation and the energy crisis have driven up the cost of living. Despite this, it is often not possible to work more while staff shortages are sky high. There are several problems with regard to Social Affairs Minister Van Gennip. For example, the part-time culture in the Netherlands must come to an end. “Poverty in our country is largely a ‘women’s problem’. ‘
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There have been signs for some time that not only the lower, but also the middle income earners are struggling to make ends meet. Van Gennip spoke to teachers, police officers and municipal officials. “Everyone is middle-income and everyone is struggling to make ends meet. People want to save on energy costs and wonder what Sinterklaas or Christmas presents to buy.’
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The government is taking measures to make purchasing power and energy costs affordable. But attempts by people themselves to work more hours often do not get off the ground. Although the desire is there and that knife could cut both ways. Because it can lead to more income, and the shortage in the labor market can be combated that way, says Van Gennip.
Tax on work
However, working more often does not pay off, says political reporter Sophie van Leeuwen. “Childcare is expensive and the tax on work is high. Childcare won’t be largely free until 2024, and how are we going to pay the costs by cutting taxes on work? That discussion is current and crucial.’
Van Gennip: ‘We want labor to become cheaper, we increase the minimum wage and we want rich people to contribute more through wealth tax. But the whole system with all the subsidies must be tackled in its entirety. It was also difficult for me to know which buttons I could turn to achieve a balanced purchasing power package.’
Nevertheless, Van Gennip believes that work ‘always pays off’. ‘You can see that in the four percent of people where the marginal pressure is way too high, those people keep less than 30 percent of every extra euro earned. Twenty percent have a marginal pressure of less than 40 percent and are left with more than half of the extra euro. The very large group in between pay the taxes we pay the teachers and police officers for in our country.’
According to the minister, a further advantage is that women who work extra also earn an extra pension and receive daily allowance in the event of unemployment or when someone becomes ill for a longer period of time. ‘Work always pays off, financially in the long term and also in everyday life.’ And, ‘we have a great lack of education and care. If we want to keep the Netherlands going, we all have to go the extra mile.’
‘Poverty is a women’s problem’
In that respect, poverty in our country is largely a ‘women’s problem’ and therefore encourages women to work more. Affordable or almost free childcare is essential for this.
By 2024, childcare should be practically free, but according to the minister it is not only about affordability, but also about accessibility. Agreements must also be made with schools and employers on this. ‘How do you ensure that a mother who wants to work an extra day can still place her child in childcare?’
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Families should also look at the distribution themselves, believes the minister. “Young parents must both be able to continue working, and this also means that fathers must take on more of the caring role.” It is not only young families that must be taken into account, but also those whose children are already parents, as the Social and Cultural Planning Office indicated more than a month ago.
‘You want to get rid of the model where the young father works five days and the young mother works three days.’ And the minister does not quite understand where this division comes from. ‘I want to understand where the part-time culture comes from. Why is it that young parents choose a five-three distribution instead of a four-four distribution? We have to have that conversation in this society.’