The North Dutch are very worried about whether they or others can still make it because of the rising prices. This is evident from extensive research carried out by Kieskompas commissioned by NH Nieuws. According to experts, this is because all strata of the population are now affected. From low to middle income. Groceries are more expensive and gas and electricity prices are high.
In recent months, NH Nieuws, together with Kieskompas, has carried out large-scale research into topics that are currently on the agenda among the North Dutch. More than forty percent of the North Dutch state that they are worried about their finances, both for themselves and for others. In particular, Northern Dutch between the ages of 18 and 34 and residents with a lower education see the affordability of life as one of the most important themes at the moment.
“As is the case for many, our energy costs have also risen sharply. Fortunately, we can (still) afford that, but there are many others who cannot, and that is unacceptable. This also applies to groceries”, reads one of the responses from the survey.
Money worries and a bad night’s sleep
According to Anna Custers, professor of poverty interventions at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, almost everyone’s wallet is currently affected. From low to middle income. But according to Custers, it is not the only thing: “Money worries create more uncertainty, tension in the family and a poorer night’s sleep. It has more social impact than just the household book.” According to the poverty expert, the reason for the inflation is currently due to the increased energy prices, which are affecting all possible areas. “This makes both food and childcare more expensive.”
But it is not only price increases that cause people (further) financial problems. Karin Radstaak, spokesperson for Nibud, explains that the unavailability of compensation schemes also plays a role. “Although most people eligible for energy subsidies have already applied for this, there are still hundreds of households that have yet to do so.”
According to her, it is currently too complicated to apply for benefits. “The tax and benefit structure must become more transparent, clearer and simpler,” replies someone from the survey. Another proposes a new system: “Introduce basic income. Life must become affordable again for the minimum income.”
“It is important to make healthy products cheaper and less healthy products more expensive”
For many people, the future is currently uncertain, both experts conclude. Basic services are under pressure. Not only the prices of gas and electricity, groceries are also more expensive. “It is therefore important to make healthy products cheaper and less healthy products more expensive,” says Radstaak. Our research shows that almost 90 percent of the North Dutch agree. Even if unhealthy products become more expensive as a result. “A healthy lifestyle is not possible for a single parent with a son and daughter studying,” someone replies.
“There are many people who can get by with little money. It’s very smart, but it stops at some point,” says Radstaak. The financial support that comes from the government is therefore very welcome, she says. Custer also agrees. Only the way she thinks might not be right. It lacks customization. “At the moment, fixed amounts are donated, but there is a big difference between the families. One just needs it a little more than the other.”
Prices are still high
Furthermore, government intervention alone is not enough, she adds. “The current question is: to what extent can the government continue to compensate? Inflation now appears to have eased somewhat and everyone hopes it will fall back next year, but energy prices are expected to remain high. Certainly twice as much as before the crisis.” According to the expert, it is therefore important to think about a structural innovation within the economy, where the Netherlands becomes less dependent on, for example, gas.
According to Radstaak, it is important that the municipalities in particular continue to play an active role in the early detection of poverty. “People themselves often ask for help too late because of a sense of shame.” Many municipalities already do this well, she says. “You have to look at what helps people the most. And support if someone can’t pay the rent, instead of evicting someone later. At the end of the line, the former gives a lot more from a social point of view.”
According to Custers, there is still a long way to a real solution. “The problem is that part of the inflation is driven by external conditions and, so to speak, imported from elsewhere in the world.” (The municipality) is therefore limited in what they can do about the current economic situation, she concludes. “We don’t have an emergency brake to pull.”
State of NH
This article is part of our research project ‘State of NH’. To this end, NH Nieuws commissioned research by Kieskompas on topics that residents of North Holland consider the most important. We organize themed weeks around the four topics most often mentioned in the survey (housing crisis, affordable living conditions, healthcare and nature), where we discuss these topics in detail. For an explanation of survey accountability, see here fair.
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