Caribisch Netwerk states today that, “Instead of giving families a child allowance of 38 dollars per month on the BES islands , it would be more efficient for the Dutch government to subsidize basic necessities for families, such as food.” says coordinator Danny Winands of the Center for Youth and Family in Saba and Statia.
From 2016 onwards, the Dutch parliament wants to introduce a child allowance of $ 38 per child per month in the Caribbean Netherlands. The Island of Bonaire rejected the amount and also in Saba and Statia is reacted indignantly. “For a small bag with food I already pay $ 45,” said Henrietta Hassell, a single mother of three children on Saba. “For that amount you hardly buy anything. I spend an average of $ 600 on groceries each month. ”
According Winands, families on the islands would like to improve their standard of living. “But the cost of living is extremely high. $ 38 is a drop in the ocean. “The child allowance in the Caribbean Netherlands for children from 0 to 5 is about 50% less than that in the European Netherlands. For older children you get more than the double in the Netherlands.
“I think that people in The Netherlands do absolutely not understand how difficult it is for single parents and families on Saba. With my small income and the increase in the cost of living, it is very difficult to save. Even with an extra $ 38, I can not save for the future of my child, “said Michelle Mattew, single mother of a child.
Also on Statia is the discussion about child allowance runs high. Many parents are upset about the difference with the Netherlands, especially because the daily cost of living on Statia is high. Others call it a small step in the right direction.
Sandra Berkel, a single mother of four children, says that $ 38 is not nearly enough. “Everything is getting more expensive, but wages are not going up. She sees merit in the proposal to subsidize basic needs. “For example, in the form of a housing benefit.”
In January 2013 the Statian community sent an urgent letter to the Senate on the high prices of living and low salaries. It described that a resident of Statia earns on average $ 900 per month and more than half of that – $ 500 – was spend on groceries. For most Statians, the situation is now exacerbated .
Pregnant Melissa Spanner is already mother of a child and wonders why there is a difference between the child in the Netherlands and the BES. “We also still have to pay tax? Why do not we get our share? “She says that she can come by without the $ 38 in child support, but she is well aware that not everyone on Statia can. “If you compare 38 dollars against a pack of diapers that costs $ 22 or a small tin of milk powder of $ 13, it’s clear that this does not bring bring you a lot extra.”
Winands says that, within the Kingdom, you should not treat people differently. “How do you decide who gets more and who less? Then you lose the balance. “Simply increasing the amount of child support is not a solution”, he says. “Just raising the amount of the child support might result in an increase of certain taxes again.” Therefore, he is proposing subsidies.
The Center for Youth and Family on Statia and Saba helps families to submit applications for Special Assistance. “We are always alert to what a family requires as additional needs and where we can get this. For instance, think towards need for baby supplies. ”
Through his work, Winands has learned that lack of money is the biggest cause of conflicts within a family. On Saba and Statia he is helping some forty problem families living in poverty. “Alcohol and drug use and violence are direct consequences of poverty,” he says.