More Dutch households will face financial problems if price increases continue: experts

AMSTERDAM - The already increasing payment problems will rise much further if inflation remains so high, budget institute Nibud and debt relief association NVVK expect. At the moment, it is mainly people who were already short on cash who have acute financial problems, but more and more people in the low-middle class are also having an increasingly challenging time. That group will be the next in trouble and possibly also debt. 


“Households that have already made cutbacks and really can’t get by anymore are left with their hands in their hair,” said a Nibud spokesperson. “We also hear that from people who call us.” One in three households is now unable to make ends meet, the budget institute established last month. “We’ve never seen that before.” 


On Thursday, Statistics Netherlands reported that inflation topped 10 percent for the first time since 1975. The main reasons were the skyrocketing energy prices and higher rent increases. “The increase is now really everywhere, which makes it difficult to cut spending,” Nibud said. “Rent is a fixed expense that you can’t change much about. That makes it extra sour that you now also have to pay those extra costs.” 


The NVVK is also very concerned about the energy bill. “We hear that many people deliberately set their monthly advance payment for energy too low and cook on the stove, but then you have to end the month on bananas,” said Geert van Dijk, director of the interest group for debt counselors. 


He says that debt counselors work with an increasing sense of powerlessness because the weekly amount of about 50 euros that can be spent in a debt settlement is no longer enough. “For example, people have to buy groceries, gifts, and a cup of coffee, and that is not indexed. As a result, people look for money in other ways, and those are usually not the best choices, like borrowing from family.” “Large numbers of people” also turn to food banks or skip hot meals. 


Furthermore, debt counselors also see that new arrangements are more difficult to agree on because the amount that someone can live without is becoming lower due to higher expenditure. And where creditors like energy companies have helped find solutions and often understood the payment problems, this could change if a larger group ends up in debt. “Then it concerns larger amounts, and creditors will want to reduce the risks of default,” said Van Dijk. 

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