Number of Dutch poor growing fast

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The number of people living on or just above the poverty line is growing fast.

Aid workers and debt-collecting agencies say the number of people facing major financial problems is on the rise, even though they do not have the figures yet to back this up.

Debt relief sector organisation NVVK says the increase is mainly due to falling prices in the housing market, high fixed expenses and dismissals. In addition debt collectors have become much stricter. “Businesses and institutions are looking for money. Creditors are becoming increasingly assertive."

Good income
NVVK says the new minimum wage earners are often people who were used to a good income. "From all over the country we are picking up signals that the people who are forced to make an appeal to debt relief are often home owners with fairly large incomes,” says NVVK Chair Joke de Kock.

The changeover is much more difficult for those used to a more affluent lifestyle compared to people who are used to living on a minimum wage. "It is a very complicated issue,” Ms de Cock says. “Many choices must be made which affect a family on many different levels. It also makes great demands on debt relief organisations.”

Employers too
For the first time employers are also applying for debt relief assistance. These are businesses where about 10 percent of the workers are debtors facing attachment of wages and no longer have their full salary at their disposal.

"These problems have led to an increase in sick leave, which adversely affects productivity," says De Kock. NVVK is developing software intended to assist businesses facing these issues.


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