Until 2015, the UWV benefits agency awarded all disabled students the same supplementary income in addition to their student grant: 25% of the minimum youth wage. However, after the Participatiewet (Participation Act) came into force, these students need to arrange this supplement themselves with their municipality. And the new legislation introduced another change: only those students whose impairment makes it impossible for them to work on the side are eligible for such a supplement.
It soon turned out that some municipalities are far more generous than others. Research by the Dutch Student Union (LSVb) and CNV-jongeren showed that disabled students in Heerlen only received an extra 31 euro per month, while students in Zwolle were offered ten times this amount.
To resolve this situation, D66, CDA, GroenLinks and 50Plus submitted a motion seeking to ensure that all students with an impairment are offered the same supplement to their student loan. The authors of this broadly supported motion also inquired whether DUO could be responsible for paying out this monthly allowance rather than the municipalities.
State Secretary Tamara van Ark (Social Affairs and Employment) has now complied with the MPs’ wishes. On Monday, Van Ark issued a letter to parliament announcing that students whose medical condition doesn’t allow them to work part-time will soon be entitled to a monthly supplement of some 300 euro. This is more or less equal to the amount allocated under the old scheme until 2015.
The new scheme will also include standardised application and allocation procedures for the municipalities. However, in view of capacity problems at DUO, these local authorities will continue to bear responsibility for executing the scheme. While the changes to legislation will enter into force on 1 January 2021, the State Secretary has called on local administrators to start improving their performance in this area.
“Which municipality you reside in shouldn’t have an impact on your monthly student supplement. These students all deserve a helping hand, financially speaking. We want to make sure they can complete their degree programme,” says Van Ark.