AMSTERDAM - Structural inequality between social groups in the Netherlands is not diminishing. And that despite policy to reduce this gap, social and cultural planning office SCP concluded after comparing the situation in 2014 and 2020. The Cabinet needs to start looking at the people, not just their labor market position, SCP director Kim Putters said to Nieuwsuur.
"This involves major differences in self-reliance between citizens, especially between people who have more and less access to resources such as work and income, social networks, care and support, or training," Putters said. "Time and again in our research, we see groups of vulnerable citizens who have been left behind for years, partly because the arrears are piling up for them in several places."
According to Putters, the Cabinet needs to pay more attention to the people behind the problem. "It's about whether people are doing well," she said. "So not only whether the labor market is doing well, how much they can work and how secure their work is. But it is also often linked to debts or insecurities, the healthcare bill, and often the children are also struggling at school. It's an accumulation of problems. The group of people involved is quite large, about 28 percent of the population, and that has not gotten any better."
"Just looking at more permanent work is not the whole solution. It also concerns the tax papers, a reminder from the health insurer, the feasibility of the rules. Now people are getting entangled and can no longer keep their heads above water. We have to go back to humane measures."
This group of struggling citizens is not newly identified. "We have known this for a long time, and the Cabinet says they will do something about it, but we see too little that their position is improving."
There will always be differences in society, and the government cannot solve everything, Putters acknowledged. "But where the government does have responsibility is that it structurally puts some groups at a disadvantage. The problem is that society feels that they cannot trust that hard work, doing your best, and keeping good contact will get you ahead in life. That devalues and polarizes society."