"Speak Dutch to get social welfare" - VVD

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The larger of the two parties in the minority coalition, the conservative VVD, has said that only people who speak Dutch should be eligible for social welfare assistance. MP Cora van Nieuwenhuizen hopes to adopt a proposal from the governing VVD into legislation from 1 January 2013, Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant reports.

The VVD announced in 2010 that it intended reforming the social welfare system. It can rely on support from its smaller coalition partner, the Christian Democrats, as well as the democrat D66 opposition party. “It depends on the type of benefit, but the bottom line is I think anyone claiming welfare should be able to speak Dutch,” says D66 MP Fatma Koser Kaya in de Volkskrant.

Geert Wilders’ anti-Islam Freedom Party, which supports the minority government in parliament, is also in favour of the proposal.

Dutch test “superfluous”
The Dutch Labour Party, the Socialist Party and GreenLeft say the proposed legislation is “superfluous” because, under the present system, social assistance claimants are forced to do their best to get work. They point out that many people receiving welfare are already attending Dutch classes so that they can apply for jobs in a Dutch-speaking environment.

Ms Van Nieuwenhuizen says welfare claimants will be afforded a chance to improve their Dutch before having their welfare payments reduced if they fail the language test. “But if they don’t cooperate, then their payments can be reduced by 20 percent after six months. If they still resist after that, their benefit will be cut by 40 percent. Eventually, they will forfeit their right to social assistance altogether.”

(jn/as)

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