Eindhoven and Almere booked strongest economic growth last year

Almere in Flevoland and the Eindhoven region booked the sharpest economic growth in the Netherlands last year, according to new research by national statistics agency CBS. Eindhoven was buoyed by growth in business services and industry while Almere benefited from a rise in lease companies, the CBS said. The Dutch economy as a whole grew 3% over the year. Amsterdam led the performance of the four big cities, with economic growth of almost 4%.  The Hague trailed the national average, with growth of 2.6%. The economies of the three northern provinces of Groningen, Friesland and Drenthe contracted slightly due to the impact of winding down the production of natural gas, the CBS said. Almere, created on reclaimed land in the 1960s, is a planned city and got its first houses in 1976. It became an independent local authority area in 1984. Last month the CBS said  Almere’s economy grew 144% between 1996 and 2016, compared with average national growth of 50%. Its population has gone up by 75% and the number of jobs by 90% over the same period.  More >

Poles in NL work hard for low pay

Polish flag with coat of arms Some 75% of Polish nationals living in the Netherlands have a job but they are much more likely than the Dutch to have temporary or flexible contracts, work long hours and do basic manual labour, according to new research by the government's socio-cultural think tank SCP. Some 160,000 Polish nationals were registered as living in the Netherlands in 2017, making them the sixth biggest migrant group in the country, the SCP said. In addition, a further 90,000 come to the Netherlands periodically to do seasonal work. The survey of 1,000 Polish nationals found three quarters expect to live in the Netherlands for at least the next five years and more than 50% of couples are raising children here. In particular agriculture and greenhouse horticulture are heavily dependent on Polish workers, the SCP said. Despite having jobs and working long hours, Polish nationals earn on average a third less than the Dutch and 17% live in poverty. However, just 1.8% are claiming welfare benefits, compared with 2.6% of the Dutch population as a whole. The longer they live in the Netherlands, the better their prospects are, and 37% of older immigrants own their own home, the SCP said. At the same time, Poles find it difficult to make contact with the Dutch and often feel that they are being treated as second-class citizens. The percentage who say they have been confronted with discrimination has risen from 38% in 2009 to 46% last year. Despite this, they give their life here an average score of 7.1 out of 10. Are you Polish and would you like to contribute or have something to say? Contact editor@dutchnews.nl    More >

Funeral sector still lacks transparency

The Dutch funeral sector is extremely vague about the costs of funerals, according to research by consumer association Consumentenbond. The Consumentenbond asked 180 undertakers across the country about their basic rates for funerals and additional services such as printing cards, laying out the body, transport and renting crematoriums. Some 90% of the companies refused to answer questions about their rates, citing lack of time or interest. Of the 180 firms contacted, 75 do not have any information about rates on their websites, the Consumentenbond found. A survey among 1,700 Consumentenbond panel members confirms the lack of transparency. A quarter of the respondents said they were not told what the total costs of the funeral would be. In many cases costs were not discussed at all or only when explicitly requested. Unexpected costs, which only became apparent after the funeral, are not unusual either. Ten things about death in the Netherlands The consumer group studied the survey requests filled in by 20 funeral firms and the limited online information. It concluded that the basic fee for a funeral ranges from 2985 to €2,550, while flowers cost from €45 to €150. An oak coffin varied in price from €375 to €1,185. Rates should be put online, the Consumentenbond said so people know where they are. ‘Consumers have enough to worry about when they have to arrange a funeral,’ Consumentenbond director Bart Combée said.  More >

House where Cruijff grew up for rent

The house where football legend Johan Cruijff grew up in Amsterdam has come up for rent - but only a low income family need apply. The three bedroom ground floor flat is owned by housing cooperation Ymere and costs €709.68 a month, just one euro under the limit for the rent-controlled sector. The home of the footballer, who died two years ago, is located in the Akkerstraat in Betondorp and the house has big low windows because Cruijff’s parents ran a fruit and vegetable shop from the premises. The windows are now decorated with images of the player, so it would be best if prospective renters are fans of the player, the Parool pointed out. There were plans to turn the house into a museum to the legendary Ajax player but Cruijff himself rejected that idea. Students have lived in the house since 2013 while Ymere decided what to do with it. Now people with an income of below €36,798 can apply to live in the corner property. Social housing website Woningnet describes the house as ‘a nice ground floor flat with a big garden’ and says small families are priority tenants.  More >

Islamic groups request Kuwait, Saudi cash

At least 30 Islamic organisation have either requested funding or actually received money from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia over the past few years, according to research by the NRC and television current affairs show Nieuwsuur. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have been providing the Netherlands with confidential information about funding through diplomatic channels since 2010 and the Nieuwuur claim is based on three separate lists detailing the requests. Funding by conservative Gulf states is controversial because of the links with the fundamentalist stream of Islam know as Salafism. Four years ago there were 13 Salafist mosques in the Netherlands but this has now risen to 27, according to information collected by the counter terrorism unit NCTV. The number of Salafist preachers has more than doubled from 50 to 110. These figures too were confidential and Nieuwsuur said it is notable that they exist because prime minister Mark Rutte has told parliament in the past that it is impossible to draw up a list of Salafist-linked organisations in the Netherlands. The council of Moroccan mosques in the Netherlands has called on Islamic institutions to come clean about their funding. In addition, the government included a pledge to increase the controls on funding from 'restrictive states' but has not yet presented any plans to do this. Nieuwsuur and the NRC did not say how much money is involved, but they did give the example of the De Al Fath mosque in Dordrecht which has received €88,888 from Saudia Arabia.  More >

Afsluitdijk faces four-year rennovation

The Afsluitdijk, the 32 kilometre dyke which links the provinces of Noord-Holland and Friesland, is to undergo an extensive programme of maintenance, starting at the end of this year. The overhaul is necessary because sea water levels are rising and there is an increasing risk of extreme weather, the infrastructure ministry's road department said. In addition, too much water is entering the IJsselmeer lake from the rivers inland. The dyke will be clad in 75,000 concrete blocks each weighing 6,500 kilos and produced at a special factory in Harlingen. The locks will be strengthened as well and new pumping stations will be built to get rid of superfluous water. The project will cost €555m and will be finished in 2022. It’s the first time in 85 years the Afsluitdijk, which was opened to traffic in 1933, will undergo such extensive work. ‘We put the dyke through its paces every six years and a number of years ago it became clear that it isn’t strong enough,’ project manager Joost van de Beek told broadcaster NOS. The renovation will ensure the dyke’s safety until 2050, the ministry said.  It will not be closed off during the work but there will be some disruption to traffic and one of the two traffic lanes will be closed for a total of two years.  More >

Armenian children will be deported

Two children who went into hiding after facing deportation to Armenia can be sent back to their mother's home country, despite never having lived there and not speaking the language, judges in Utrecht said on Monday. The court upheld former justice minister Klaas Dijkhoff's decision not to give the children a residency permit on the basis of 'temporary humanitarian grounds', clearing the way for them to be deported. Armina Hambartsjumian, the mother of Lily (11) and Howick (12), was sent back to Armenia in August last year after sending the children to a secret address. They were found a week later and have been in the care of an independent foundation which looks after child refugees since then. The children were born in Russia and have lived in the Netherlands for over nine years. However, they have not qualified for the government’s amnesty for child refugees. The Dutch child protection council Raad voor de Kinderbescherming told broadcaster NOS it expected the children's mother would be able to look after them. They can also get help with learning the language from an American foundation there, the council is quoted as saying.  More >

Teenagers like their food cheap and fast

Teenagers like their food tasty, cheap and fast, according to a survey into consumer behaviour in teenagers and quoted by broadcaster NOS on Tuesday. But it is not all bad news for the next generation of adults, the Dutch FoodService Institute found: just under half of the 1000 participating youngsters still bring sandwiches to school. The rest, however, buy food in school canteens or from a supermarket and that means they don’t always go for the healthy option. Girls are more likely to choose healthy food and opt for water or fruit more often than boys. Both boys and girls think eating properly during the week is more important than at the weekend, the survey said.  More >