Many residents of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba are struggling to make ends meet. The government is well aware of this and earlier this year measures to improve the situation were already announced. Today another significant step was taken: the expenses for employers in the Caribbean Netherlands will decrease over a quarter. This makes it possible to increase the minimum wage and social benefits by 5% on top of the inflation. The central government has announced this on “Prinsjesdag”.
“It is extremely important that people are able to spend more, because the costs of food, drinking and housing are high. At the same time, I want to make sure that working yields more than being on welfare, “said State Secretary Tamara van Ark of Social Affairs and Labour. By lowering the employer contributions from 18.4 percent to 13.4 per cent, the cost of employment is reduced. As a result of this, the minimum wage can be increased. Social benefits such as welfare, AWW and AOV will increase accordingly with the minimum wage.
This measure is a sequel to previous steps that were announced earlier this year. The Cabinet ensures that vulnerable groups such as single pensioners, people completely and permanently unable to work and (single) parents with children, will benefit. Welfare for people who live on their own , for example, will increase by January 1st, 2019. In addition, from that moment on, more people have access to special assistance, because the Cabinet increases the income limit to 120% of the minimum wage. The child benefit will increase with 50 % in 2019 as well.
The Cabinet will introduce a compensation for people who live on their own and are unable to work, if possible as of January 2020. On this same date the Cabinet will increase the benefit for people who are completely and permanently unable to work.
State Secretary of Internal Affairs and Kingdom Relations, Raymond Knops and State Secretary Van Ark will inform the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) annually, before the summer recess, on the progress of all actions taken. In 2020 the Cabinet will see what the effect was of the measures taken and then decide whether additional measures are required.