Social organisations critical about coalition agreement

PIc credit-Studio040

The new cabinet is increasingly taking shape. Coalition parties PVV, VVD, NSC and BBB recently announced an outline agreement explaining the government’s plans. Various social institutions in Eindhoven, namely Springplank, Eindhoven Library and Cultuur Eindhoven, shed light on that agreement

“When I read that there are plans to cut back on reception, that an asylum crisis is being declared to stop the influx of asylum seekers, that the current reception even has to be turned into a closed reception, then I have strong reservations about this”, says Springplank director Thijs Eradus.

“Harsh reception policy creates more insecurity on the streets”

Thijs Eradus, Springplank040

According to Eradus, the consequence is clear. “For example, if you accept fewer migrant workers, they will not leave the Netherlands. Then you can already map out where they will end up: on the street. This means that the city becomes less liveable with more unrest and less safety.”

Eradus sees no point in a more harsh policy for refugees. “You can now see that the integration is going very well. The refugees housed in Eindhoven do not cause any nuisance. Those people want to work, I would say: offer them that opportunity.”

Support municipality

The outline agreement has few consequences for the library, says Albert Kivits of Eindhoven Library. “We feel full support from the municipality. Even during the period of the outgoing cabinet, we continued to roll out neighbourhood libraries, for example.”

“Due to the cutbacks, 25 percent of MBO students now have low literacy.”

Albert Kivits, Eindhoven Library

And that is desperately needed, given the poor performance of the Netherlands in the field of basic skills such as reading, writing and arithmetic. The plans for the VAT increase will not benefit those backlogs, Kivits thinks. “If you look at the cuts to the library, a crater has been created in the literacy of residents over the past 10 or 15 years. We are still working to repair that damage, which could take a whole generation.”

Low literacy

Because the damage caused by the cuts is becoming increasingly tangible, Kivits explains. “Four years ago, 16 percent of MBO students had low literacy, now that is 25 percent. These students have too little vocabulary to properly understand texts. But Fontys is discontinuing its media library, Summa is doing the same. Then, it is up to us to turn the tide. Fortunately, we are working on the neighbourhood libraries and expanding in the Witte Dame.”

To invest

What certainly does not benefit literacy is the increase in VAT on books and library subscriptions. “Library subscriptions are also becoming more expensive as a result. While you want to keep the library accessible. I would say: invest right.”

“Offering everyone in the Netherlands a free library subscription costs 70 million euros.”

Albert Kivits, Eindhoven Library

According to Kivits, the library should be made free. “To make a library subscription free for everyone in the Netherlands, 70 million euros is needed. That seems like a lot of money, but the municipal budget of Eindhoven, for example, is already 1 billion euros. Then you also remove the barrier for people who are not coming now. While in the library, they can, for example, read the newspaper for free and take free courses to develop digital skills, for example.”

Less accessible

The cultural sector is also becoming less accessible due to the proposed VAT increase, explains Tanja Mlaker of Stichting Cultuur Eindhoven. “The municipality’s ambition remains to keep culture accessible to as many people as possible. But the VAT increase does put pressure on cultural organisations that are subsidised by the municipality, such as venues, amateur associations and museums.”

“The VAT increase on tickets for the theatre ultimately comes down to the municipality.”

Tanja Mlaker, Eindhoven Culture Foundation

“For example, the Parktheater had 4.5 million euros in income from ticket sales in 2023. If VAT increases from 9 percent to 21 percent, tickets will cost 12 percent more. Thus,the Parktheater will have to bear around 0.5 million towards increased VAT and therefore have a financial problem. That financial problem will ultimately fall on the municipality’s plate.”


Mlaker does not expect the main lines agreement to have negative consequences for the multi-year subsidies from 2025 to 2028, where a large part of the culture budget goes. “The subsidy applications were submitted in January, and the Council for Culture will issue advice at the beginning of July. The new minister must then decide on subsidies in September. I do not assume that the rules will change in the meantime,” said Mlaker.


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