Rental housing benefit claims on the rise in the Netherlands
Dutch newspapers are reporting that an increasing number of residents in the Netherlands are claiming housing benefits to help them pay their rent.
According to the data from the Ministry of Finance, 1,3 million people applied for rental housing benefits by January 1, 2016.
That’s an increase of 327.000 people compared to 10 years ago. The figures had been requested from the finance ministry by the data journalists of LocalFocus.
Budget challenge for Dutch government
The number of applicants has increased every year since 2009. This will pose a challenge for the Dutch government, because currently there are plans on the books to reduce the budget for huurtoeslag by 230 million euro, starting in 2017.
Initially, the budget reduction was planned to begin earlier, but after criticism it was postponed until 2017.
Proven need for housing benefits
Earlier in 2016, the PBL or Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, already indicated that a much larger portion of the population would have difficulty making ends meet, were it not for the housing benefit.
In that report, the Planbureau voor de Leefomgeving identified the finance crisis as one of the possible causes for this.
The importance of rental housing benefits for lower incomes cannot be overstated. According to the PBL, in 2012 550.000 tenants would have been categorised as being vulnerable to financial problems (betaalrisico) had they not received this benefit.
That would have been an increase of almost 300.000 households. Betaalrisico is defined as not earning enough money to pay for rent and basic necessities.
Eight percent currently receive benefits
Eight out of every 100 residents in the Netherlands currently benefit from the huurtoeslagregeling, but this varies per region.
The top five Dutch cities in terms of recipients of housing benefits:
› Rotterdam: 14 out of 100 people
› Heerlen: 13,9 out of 100 people
› Groningen: 13,7 out of 100 people
› Leeuwarden: 12,5 out of 100 people
› Delft: 12,4 out of 100 people
Applying for benefits
You can apply for the huurtoeslag for a specific year up until September 1 of the following year. So if you want to apply for benefits for 2016 you have until September 1, 2017.
Benefit applications must be submitted in Dutch at the Mijn Toeslagen (My benefits) webpage using your DigiD.