in GroenLinks Zwolle

Second theme debate: Improvements in the rules surrounding benefits and the entrepreneurs hit hardest by the pandemic

My second debate on behalf of GroenLinks in the city council of Zwolle was a theme debate on economy and leisure activities. Together with my colleague Margriet we divided the subjects. I was responsible for the following subjects: (in Dutch):

  • Urban Sportpark Stadshagen
  • Ondernemerspeiling Q1 2022
  • Kostendelers en inkomensbeleid
  • Beantwoording artikel 45 vragen CDA Gevolgen stijgende energieprijzen voor verenigingen

Since talk time was limited to six minutes per political party, of course choices had to be made on what to talk about. You can watch the debate (in Dutch) below, or read my statement (in English) below the video.

Context:

  • Urban Sportpark Stadhagen: A local initiative to create an urban sports park in the neighborhood of Stadshagen was filed and this is the detailed version of the plan, including what the municipality will contribute if we vote in favor at a later meeting.
  • Ondernemerspeiling Q1 2022: A regional organization has done a survey of entrepreneurs who have a high risk of being effected by the pandemic in Q1 of this year.
  • Kostendelers en inkomensbeleid: Because the city council asked questions about the Kostendelersnorm the alderman has written this informatienota about all the foreseen changes concerning benefits.
  • Beantwoording artikel 45 vragen CDA Gevolgen stijgende energieprijzen voor verenigingen: Colleagues of het CDA have asked formal questions about compensation of energy prices for associations. At this debate other party’s get the chance to reply to the answers.

Statement:

Thank you chairperson, I have also drawn from the various topics at hand and selected matters that GroenLinks would like to bring to your attention.

First, the informatienota kostendelers en inkomensbeleid. GroenLinks is pleased that a fair number of measures have been proposed by the national government that correct some fundamental errors in the current system and make quite a few improvements. For example no longer cutting benefits of parents with children up to the age of 27 living at home.

If you need to apply for benefits you have more going on in life, you have to take care of your children while losing your partner, you lose your job, sometimes your house or worse. At those vulnerable moments, the government should act with trust and help you find your place in society again. With these measures, the (national) government seems to act more from a position of trust and seems to draw from lessons learned from the toeslagenaffaire.

In our party programme, GroenLinks already argued for a period of six months of cohabitation without affecting someone’s benefits. The arguments used in the Informatienota to first wait for a trial in Tilburg until at least the end of 2023 have not yet convinced us and we are considering a motion calling on the alderman to implement this earlier.

Furthermore, I am curious to know whether the alderman sees possibilities, in anticipation of the national introduction of these measures, to implement them earlier here in Zwolle? For example, not cutting the benefits of those with children up to 27 years of age living at home.

Then the second topic, the Entrepreneurs Survey Q1 2022. It is intense to see how many entrepreneurs in this particular group are still experiencing problems, both financial and psychological. Fortunately, we also see recovery, with 61% of respondents saying they no longer experience financial problems as a result of the pandemic.

With regard to the call campaign, we do have difficulty determining what exactly the figures say. Given that the questionnaire was specifically put to a group of entrepreneurs who according to Graydon’s estimate were hit hardest by the Corona pandemic, it is difficult to assess what this says about all entrepreneurs in Zwolle or the general trend. What further stands out is that entrepreneurs are divided on the extent to which the measures they applied for have helped, but this does not seem to have been investigated further. I therefore have a question about that.

Can the alderman do a follow-up survey on why entrepreneurs did not feel helped by some of the measures? That way we can better serve entrepreneurs in our city next time. Thank you.

What will happen because we participated:

  • We will receive extra information on why the alderman wants to wait for the pilot in Tilburg before experimenting with a period of six months of cohabitation without affecting someone’s benefits in Zwolle. After that we will decide if want to change this with a motion.

    Update: The alderman sent extra information:
  • My last question about a follow-up survey on why entrepreneurs did not feel helped by some of the measures, will be answered in writing. Potential followups can be made at a later debate.

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