People who are most financially affected by the coronacrisis are less likely to seek help if they have money concerns. This is evidenced by a study by Wijzer in money matters, a platform of the Ministry of Finance. “It is therefore important for municipalities and employers, among other things, to actively approach these groups and point out the aid available,” says Olaf Simonse van Wijzer in financial matters.
Especially flexworkers, self-employed workers and entrepreneurs indicate that they have less income since the coronacrisis. “Were afraid some of them might get into trouble,” says Simonse. “They dont already have a big buffer and are intering on it now.”
Breaking open piggy banks
One of them is self-employed Els van Meenen, beautician in Geldermalsen. Because of the second lockdown, she has to keep her doors closed for a longer period of time, just like in the spring. Now she lives with her son of the Tozo, the Reichs temporary bridging measure for independent entrepreneurs. That amounts to 1050 euros per month. Shes been cleaning in a hospital a couple of times a week since the coronacrisis, but that money is deducted from her benefit.
1050 euros is too little for Van Meenen to live on. “I normally work full-time in my practice, so my living situation and fixed expenses are not aligned with this amount,” she says. “As a result, I had to break open my money bank, including the money I have for my pension. I dont want to borrow either, because you dont know if your business is going to survive.”
Since she had only 25 euros in her account last April, she decided to tweet Mayor Servaas Stoop of the municipality of West Betuwe, which includes Geldermalsen. Within two days, she had the TOZO benefit in her account:
But Els is, according to Olaf Simonse van Wijzer, rather an exception in money matters. “From an earlier study, from just before the coronacrisis, we also know that it is precisely the group of working poor who are not well in the picture of municipalities. This is a well-known problem: we know that people who are in debt wait five years. Then they have an average of 35,000 euros in debt.”
Piece of shame
It is a problem that the municipality of Hoorn sees coming. Previously, the debt aid application for self-employed workers went wrong, now the municipality itself calls back people who have applied for a TOZO grant for the period October 2020-March 2021, to ask if they can make their lives.
“ We do not necessarily look at income, but at the fixed expenses,” says Alderman Kholoud Al Mobayed. Those who are in trouble can, for example, receive financial assistance or guidance. In addition, next week, the municipality will launch a campaign to encourage people with money concerns to report.
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment has allocated EUR 130 million for temporary support in necessary costs (TONK). The money is not income support, but is intended for self-employed workers or flex workers who can no longer pay the rent. The Ministry wants to clarify by 1 February exactly who the measure is intended for.
Al Mobayed wants that money to help people who usually make a lot of money. “Hopefully, we can help people who, for example, cant pay the mortgage. I hope we can look at customization, what someone really needs.”
Beautician Van Meenen does not hesitate to ask for more support through this scheme. “If we have to stay close after 9 February, I have no choice but to knock at the church,” she says. “If I comply with the rules, I will certainly use them.”