On Bonaire, St Eustatius, and Saba, social assistance and child benefits will be increased as of 1 July and parents of care-intensive children will receive an extra allowance in anticipation of the doubling of the child benefit. Minister Carola Schouten (Poverty Policy, Participation, and Pensions) announced this during her working visit to Bonaire. She also said she would enter into talks with the social partners to increase the statutory minimum wage. The introduction of an unemployment provision will take place during this government period. The minister also promised that the benchmark for the social minimum will be realized in 2025.
Schouten visited the Caribbean Netherlands this week. The main reason was to get acquainted with Saba, St. Eustatius, and Bonaire. But the minister also announced several measures aimed at livelihood security, which she will immediately start working on. The possibilities for everyone to participate in the labor market and the approach to poverty were discussed during the visit to the special municipalities.
Up close, the minister saw and heard how many people on the islands sometimes cannot make ends meet even with two jobs because the cost of living is high and incomes are relatively low. Schouten stated that he is prepared to take the necessary steps on the income side so that the benchmark social minimum can be realized in 2025. She put her money where her mouth was by announcing that she would increase the social assistance for independent residents and beneficiaries with a joint household, and the child benefits.
Minister Schouten: “The numbers of people living in poverty are shockingly high and we have to do that with his alien lets. I will discuss the increase in the statutory minimum wage with the public entities and social partners. In anticipation of these conversations, I take the step that I can take from my role: increasing some benefits to increasing the security of existence. It is important that people experience some relief in their wallets in the short term.”
Single people who live independently will receive an increase of $ 78 per month on Bonaire, $ 95 per month on St. Eustatius, and $ 93 per month on Saba as of July 1 this year. If two people live independently together, the social assistance is increased by $86 per month on Bonaire, $106 per month on St Eustatius, and $104 per month on Saba. Couples will then receive an increase of a total of $164 per month on Bonaire, $201 per month on St. Eustatius, and $197 per month on Saba.
The child benefit will be increased by $10 per child per month as of 1 July. As of January 2023, there will be an additional $10 per month. Previously, the double child benefit for parents of children with intensive care need was announced. Because this scheme can only be realized as of July 2023, these parents can still be eligible for compensation this year.
Schouten is also looking at modernizing the social security system. “Currently, there is no stable income provision available for the unemployed. We are changing that by introducing an unemployment provision. This arrangement takes time, but the aim is to arrange this during this cabinet period.”
During the visit, there was also a lot of talk about broad participation in the labor market. In order to give everyone a chance, including people who need extra support, there will be a pilot for a first social workplace on St Eustatius and a second social workplace on Saba.
Minister Schouten is also structurally allocating an additional 1 million euros per year to strengthen the labor market on all three islands. This extra money is used, among other things, for the guidance of work-to-work, training, and for employment guidance of young people and people with a distance to the labor market. The exact details will be discussed in more detail with the islands in the short term.