Social welfare beneficiaries will soon be obligated to work or study

State Secretary Van Ark of Social Affairs wants people who receive social benefits from the state to be obligated to either go to school or start working. According to RTL Nieuws, this could be an internship, volunteering work or even starting a language course.ย 

Van Ark wants to lay down a national law and streamline how this should be uniformly implemented in all municipalities. Right now, there are a lot of differences in how this is running. For example, some municipalities do not require any counter-effort from beneficiaries of social assistance, while others regard a counter-effort as a commissioned activity. A few of them, and not all regard voluntary work as a counter-effort.

The government wants to change this and make it more organized. But how exactly do they want to do this?

How is the Netherlands going to determine what a “counter-effort” would be?

They want to lay down the law where they want to make sure that people receiving welfare are also giving something back. According to, Van Ark believes that most of the people living in the Netherlands who receive social welfare would like to participate and contribute to society in some way or the other. But if they don’t want to do this, it should be made mandatory.

The municipalities can independently decide how exactly the person can fulfill this obligation. For example, this can be a work trajectory, informal care, or even Dutch language courses. However, it has to be determined according to what the person is capable of doing. Someone who is not very literate would take a longer time to learn Dutch or someone with a physical disability may not be able to some physically demanding work or volunteering.

What do you think of this? Let us know in the comments below!

Feature Image: Bicanski/free images/Pixnio

Kavana Desai
Kavana Desai
Coping with the aftermath of her 3-year stint in the Netherlands, Kavana is a writer, content creator and editor for DutchReview. Hailing from India, she frequently blogs about the Netherlands, being Indian in the Netherlands, and everything in between. She envisions herself to one day be the youngest person to win that Nobel Prize for Literature (she is also not very humble but welcomes only constructive criticism). In the meantime, she fills her days with writing for DutchReview, writing her master's thesis on art theft, and writing fiction that will hopefully see the light of day soon.


  1. Basically, I think this counter effort should be, if any, fair.

    If people gets a disability in whatever range, they get a support because they can’t work nominal, i don’t see what is the point to make people work, it’s nothing volunteering here.

    If people is unemployed, their main objective is to find a job, why they should be distracted from that role or making them work on something completely deviated from their target search skills? Only if it’s proben clearly with facts that they are not doing anything at all for searching a job or cheating to the system, then I understand the counter efforts or penalties for them.

    On the other hand, what about companies that receiving certain fiscal benefits, or not, while operating in NL discriminate repeteadly in the screeening process certain candidates segments? . It might be that those lead to some of the umployement cases, are there mechanisims to prevent this behaviour? if so, are they going to be counter effect works

    • You’re last statement nails it, really. I find the workforce and the recruiting agencies highly discriminating with ageism, disabilities, etc. Perhaps this will be an indirect way of making recruiting agencies and companies do their jobs properly, and be far more inclusive.

    • We’re not talking about a person who’s between jobs. This is most probably about chronic beneficiaries of tax money. NL is trying to make it less so easy to claim public money.

  2. I don’t understand the assumption that a person living off benefits don’t speak Dutch. It’s a wrongful assumption, evidently.


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