Dutch government postpones plans for free childcare, scraps STAP budget
According to reports from The Hague, during ongoing discussions regarding the Dutch government’s Spring Memorandum (voorjaarsnota), the cabinet has decided to postpone the plan for free childcare until 2027 and is looking to scrap the STAP budget.
Free childcare in the Netherlands postponed until 2027
On April 26, it was revealed that the government’s plan to make childcare practically free for parents and families in the Netherlands will be postponed by two years. This means that, instead of being introduced at the beginning of 2025, the new system for Dutch childcare will only come into effect in 2027.
In a statement, Karien van Gennip, the Minister of Social Affairs and Employment explained that more time was needed in order to ensure the system could be implemented properly. “I see the broad concerns in the sector about staff shortages, affordability, accessibility and guaranteeing quality,” Van Gennip said. “I also understand the signal from the implementing organisations that more time is needed. It is precisely with the lessons of the childcare benefit scandal (toeslagenaffaire) in mind that it is important to take a good look at the feasibility and carefulness of the policy.”
The news comes as the cabinet battles to finance the new scheme and plug gaps in the national budget. While the plan for free childcare has been postponed, the government has announced that the childcare allowance, which is calculated based on the parents' incomes, will be increased in 2025 and 2026.
NOS: Dutch government scrapping STAP budget
In addition to the news about childcare, NOS reports that the government’s STAP budget, which was introduced last spring and allows job seekers and workers to receive a subsidy of up to 1.000 euros to cover the costs of a course or training programme, is set to be scrapped.
While the scheme has proved exceedingly successful - according to the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV), over 2.000 people received the subsidy in 2022 - scrapping the STAP budget should save the Dutch government around 200 million euros.
Rutte’s cabinet to cut spending by 2,5 billion euros
The cabinet is making significant cutbacks to its current budget, as the government struggles to plug the gaps and finance a number of other projects. The cabinet has therefore adopted what it calls a “cheese slicer” approach, which involves scraping bits of the budget off of all government departments. According to RTL Nieuws, the government intends to cut spending by 2,5 billion euros.
As part of the Spring Memorandum, NOS reports that the rising interest rates will cost the government around 9 billion euros, while the budget for the asylum system will rise to between 3 and 5 billion euros a year. Furthermore, the cabinet has committed 13,5 billion euros over the coming 30 years to support and rebuild Groningen - a region in the Netherlands that has faced multiple earthquakes as a result of drilling by the Dutch gas industry.
The final draft of the Spring Memorandum will be presented to the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) on Friday. While there was a plan to potentially increase the mandatory deductible (eigen risico) for Dutch health insurance from 385 to 485 euros, NOS reports that this plan is no longer on the table.
Thumb: Imke Zijm via Shutterstock.com.