163 pages long. CBS needed so many pages to publish its publication on Poverty and Social Exclusion 2018 on 17 January 2018. Poverty in the Netherlands - Fabrication? Or poignant reality ...?
International day for fighting poverty
Exactly nine months later it is the International Day for Combating Poverty, October 17, 2018. That even an International Day is mentioned and recognized in the Netherlands is a clear message: just like the conclusion of the Statistics Netherlands report: Poverty in the Netherlands is increasing.
Poverty in the Netherlands is obviously poverty of a different type - compared to Third World countries, the Netherlands is a rich country, after all (according to Statistics Netherlands): in the Netherlands' Poverty is not a matter of physical survival ', because (after all)' Every citizen has a roof over his head, does not have to go hungry, can dress and has access to medical care '. The words 'need, can and have access' are so easy to defend on paper. In the Netherlands, poverty is defined as 'not having enough money to realize a certain level of consumption that is considered as minimally necessary in the Netherlands'.
A few things from this (short) description occurred to me:
"No matter of physical survival"
"Access to medical care"
"Determined consumption level"
I believe that if you have physical or psychological problems, you can afford to use specialist help for this. Just let the expectation that the costs of care will go up in 2019. Another major obstacle for people with a small scholarship to visit a general practitioner, dentist or pharmacy. Health suffers from the price tag of care. This is clear because Statistics Netherlands concludes that people with a low income, among other things, have poorer health, have shorter lives and have more healthcare costs. More healthcare costs because they postpone the visit to the GP, eat less healthy food or have more psychological problems? And then it is not a question of 'Physical survival'?
Think of the families who have a high risk, so they can keep the monthly healthcare costs as low as possible. Perhaps they postpone the visit to the dentist or general practitioner, with possible consequences.
Moreover, low-income people have few social contacts, are not members of a sports association and are even more often a victim of violence or are themselves suspect. They also often face debts and have a small or nil capital.
Determined consumption level
And what exactly is a "certain consumption level". Statistics Netherlands reports that 14 percent of respondents did not have enough money to eat a hot meal with meat, fish or chicken 3 times a week, or not to regularly buy new clothes. But what is regular clothing buying? Twice a week, once a month, once every six weeks? Who or what determines the level of consumption? Do you live in poverty when you pick up a second hand, or when you let your child ride around on a third-hand bike? I do not think it's just a choice to reuse things. Are you rich when your child has the latest Playstation? Or did you buy it with a loan because you actually could not afford it? The medal has two sides.
Financially the pineut
Often you will be financially deprived if you fall outside the criteria of Zorgtoeslag, KGB or other allowances. Just because you deserve 'too much'. And then you are actually a victim of the fact that you just want to work, want to be among the people and you want to contribute to society. But actually you are simply punished. Because even if there is only one income in your family, if it comes just above the wage limit, you can wave your allowances.
Fortunately, there are many agencies in the Netherlands where you can turn to for help, think for example of legal aid through the Wijkcentrum, Jeugdsport Fonds so that your child can play for free, or the Youth Culture Fund, Health insurers often let you pay your own risk in installments. More gas and light than paid? Reimburse surcharges? Request a payment arrangement. The list is actually infinite.
Yet there is often hesitation, embarrassment to get help, hesitancy to go to the Food Bank, fear that someone sees you. And so you do not go and then the vicious circle of social exclusion closes.
No gold signs
We at home absolutely do not eat golden plates, our cutlery is from Ikea and I take lunch to work. Poverty is unknown to us, being rich in Dagobert Duck style too. But you can take care of a rich feeling yourself. Just by dressing out your wardrobe, or those of your children. Put it in a bag and hand it in at one of the many clothing banks, or donate it to a school where you know that there are children who can use it properly. Toys that are no longer played? Give it to a child who can still have fun. That is wealth, giving and sharing. Not eating 3 meals with meat, fish or chicken per week.