New support package leaves students in the cold

The Dutch government will provide a further nine months of financial support to shore up an economy that is still reeling from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, students with temporary jobs are not included in the raft of measures announced last week.

Until mid-2021, struggling businesses will still be able to claim financial assistance to help them pay workers. From October, the support will cover 80 percent of all salaries, scaling back to 70 percent and then 60 percent from January 2021 and April 2021 respectively. The package is set to cost €5.4 billion.

This is good news for students with a permanent job. But many students are flexible workers. And for that group, the package has little to offer. The support scheme for flexible workers came to an end on 27 July and will not be continued.

Left in the cold

The flexible workers’ scheme was put in place to help those who work through temp agencies or on the basis of zero-hour contracts. Students who worked alongside their studies were mentioned specifically: it was estimated that they had lost at least half of their income due to the coronavirus crisis.

Students could only qualify for this scheme by proving that they had earned €400 or more from flexible work in the month of February. This cut-off point had initially been €500 euros, but MPs called for it to be lowered, fearing that too many students would be left in the cold.

Lack of attention

National student organisations ISO and LSVb have expressed disappointment at the lack of attention paid to students in the new package. When asked for their opinion, they pointed out that young people are being hit disproportionately hard by the economic crisis and therefore deserve more help.

Apparently, the government does not see students as a high-risk group. One argument put forward in support of this position is that students have the opportunity to borrow money from DUO on favourable terms. And once they graduate, their chances of finding a job are good. A world away from the prospects faced by ‘vulnerable school leavers’, a group the government does mention specifically.

The newly announced support and recovery package does offer funding for retraining. Self-employed entrepreneurs, for example, can appeal for support of this kind if their business fails. The government’s plans are also designed to tackle youth unemployment.


Last but not least, more generous tax benefits are being made available for private investments in research and innovation. The idea being that, in these troubled times, bold and innovative projects need all the help they can get.

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