Sector organizations have mixed reactions to Dutch Cabinet’s budget plans for 2023

The cabinet’s plans for 2023 drew mixed reactions from different sectors in the Netherlands. The public prosecutor’s office is happy about additional investments, but the police unions want to invest more in the staff shortage. Schools love wage increases, but need more to make their buildings more sustainable. The GGDs are happy with more money for fighting infectious diseases, but need more for prevention. Youth Care Netherlands feels that the government has again forgotten young people in need.

With over 200 million euros to be invested in the fight against infectious diseases next year, the cabinet shows confidence in the GGD’s municipal health services, the governing body GGD GHOR Nederland said. The Corona crisis has made it “painfully clear” how vital a healthy population and the prevention of diseases are.

“At the same time, more investments are needed in other areas in which GGDs carry out special prevention work,” says the umbrella organization. GGD GHOR Nederland also misses structural funds for youth health and forensic medicine in the home. “The investments are also designed for the next one to two years. We want future-oriented, longer-term funding to strengthen the GGDs.”

Youth Care is disappointed with the cabinet’s plans. “In the talk of throne and household, Dutch youth are once again forgotten,” said the industry association for youth care, youth protection and youth probation. According to the organization, the municipalities will only get a little more money next year, but “that doesn’t mean that in the end it will stay with youth care”.

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Health insurers, in response to the budget, emphasized the importance of affordability of health care. It is crucial that people “can trust that good care will remain accessible to them and that premiums need to increase as little as possible, especially at this time,” said Zorgverzekeraars Nederland. The premiums for compulsory health insurance will increase by around 10 euros per month in the coming year. “Soon, people who can no longer afford groceries will also have to pay this higher premium. This is worrying,” said Chairman Dirk Jan van den Berg.

The Judicial Council is optimistic about the cabinet’s plans to invest a further 155 million euros per year in, among other things, hiring judges, digitization, innovations and processing complaints against organized crime. “The cabinet also announced today that court fees for citizens and small and medium-sized enterprises will be reduced and fees for social lawyers will be increased,” said Henk Naves, chairman of the council. “The cabinet is showing that maintaining our rule of law is important to it.”

Prosecutors called it a good thing that the cabinet is investing in the criminal justice chain and tackling organized crime and cybercrime. “These investments are necessary in order to make the public prosecutor’s office and the criminal justice chain fit for the future in the coming years, among other things by hiring and training 250 new public prosecutors.”

The police union ACP is disappointed that the cabinet has not followed the police unions’ call to invest 317 million euros in overcoming the police staff shortage. “Compared to the coalition agreement, no euro has been added,” said Maarten Brink from the AKP. “The current investments by the government mean an increase in the tasks of the police.” This will only worsen the existing staff shortage. “Hard decisions have to be made. Bottlenecks at the police end up at the foundation. Neighborhood teams and investigative teams will continue to disintegrate, and citizens can no longer expect the help they should from the police.”

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The network association for people with disabilities or chronic illnesses informed everyone that the measures to compensate for the high energy bill are insufficient for people with additional energy costs due to a disability or chronic illness. Things like an electric wheelchair or medical equipment increase energy costs. People with disabilities are also more likely to face financial difficulties, in part due to precarious income and high health and care costs. “Many people with disabilities are completely stuck and can no longer save.” The cabinet must quickly present targeted measures.

The cabinet did not mention the increasing costs for secondary schools in the budget, said the umbrella organization VO-Raad. Schools spend more on energy and inflation. According to VO-Raad, the government has also paid little attention to students’ mental health in budget plans.

The organization for primary schools, PO-Raad, regrets that the cabinet has not provided money for the renovation of outdated school buildings. “Because we have to offer education in buildings that have long since been written off, not only energy but also knowledge seeps away,” says Chairman Freddy Weima. The PO-Raad is pleased that the agreements on salary increases have been included in the budget. Elementary school teachers now earn as much as their peers. “This budget underscores this once again. We can be proud that this has been achieved after a long struggle.”

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The government’s plan to reimburse 96 percent of childcare costs is good news for people on the lowest incomes, industry association BMK said. Parents will soon only pay 4 percent of childcare costs. The high remuneration is intended to make it easier for parents to work more. “It makes childcare affordable and easy for all parents and ensures that more work really pays off. All working parents now benefit from this, which is good for the entire job market,” said the chairman of the BMK.

The other association in the BK sector expects the cabinet’s plans to increase demand for childcare. But the sector also faces staffing shortages, so these extra spaces don’t just happen. “In 2031 we need 50,000 additional employees. If we do everything we can to recruit and retain employees, in the best-case scenario we can find 21,000 employees,” said director Emmeline Bijlsma. “The only effect of this is longer waiting lists. Many parents will be caught without childcare in the future.”

The universities are pleased about the planned investments in education. Dutch universities said “big investments are being made” and the Association of Universities of Applied Sciences said “steps in the right direction”.

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