The number of applications for social assistance benefits increased significantly over the past few weeks, especially among young people with flexible jobs and in the four large cities. Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht also received tens of thousands of applications from self-employed for the temporary bridging scheme for entrepreneurs (Tozo).
NRC spoke to the alderpersons responsible for Social Affairs in 32 municipalities. Half of the surveyed municipalities noticed that applications for welfare doubled or more in the past few weeks. Only three municipalities did not see an increase, and six said they only saw a slight increase. Amsterdam and Rotterdam saw the biggest increase in applications.
Amsterdam and Rotterdam also saw the largest number of applications for the entrepreneurs’ bridging scheme, which supplements self-employed persons’ income during the coronavirus, according to figures requested by NOS. Amsterdam received nearly 40 thousand applications. Rotterdam, which also handles the applications of 27 other municipalities, received over 19 thousand applications. Almost two thirds were from Rotterdam entrepreneurs. The Hague received requests from around 9 thousand entrepreneurs, and Utrecht from over 10 thousand.
The Tozo scheme supplements single self-employed persons’ income up to 1,050 euros net. For married or cohabitating self-employed persons, the municipality supplements income up to 1,500 euros. “The number of applications has leveled off a bit in recent days,” an Amsterdam spokesperson said to NOS. “Payments are now being made as quickly as possible.” 12 thousand Amsterdam entrepreneurs have already received their Tozo supplement. The other three large municipalities have also started paying out.
The Social Affair alderpersons told NRC that they see many welfare applications from young people, largely from people in their twenties and thirties with flexible or freelance contracts. Companies can make use of the NOW scheme, with which the government covers up to 90 percent of the wage bill in order to prevent layoffs. But flexible workers are often not covered by this, because sending them away does not require a formal dismissal.