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Dutch News
Socialists again call for action to ‘stop expats displacing Amsterdammers’ 1/6/2019
Socialists again call for action to ‘stop expats displacing Amsterdammers’

The leader of the Socialist party in Amsterdam has called on the city council to take steps to stop ‘Amsterdammers being displaced by expats and international students’. SP councillor Erik Flentge said in an article on the party’s local website that the city is ‘becoming completely out of balance because of the large stream of expats with their tax advantages, continually forcing up house prices’. ‘Amsterdammers who are looking for jobs should get the opportunity, not be competed away by expats,’ Flentge said. ‘People who have lived in the city for longer, work or study should have the chance to get a job and priority in getting a house.’ Flentge made the comments after the national statistics agency CBS published new figures showing that the population of Amsterdam had grown by 10,000 over the past year, largely due to the arrival of more international workers from America, Britain, India and the EU. This, Flentge said, has been driving up house prices and making the city’s housing popular with investors, forcing Amsterdam families to move out of the city to the cheaper surrounding areas. Priority The SP wants Amsterdammers to be given priority in new housing projects and to stop people buying up homes to rent out. ‘The SP also wants the council to make agreements with foreign firms about taking on local personal and locating expats in the region,’ Flengte said. Research by the International Community Advisory Platform has shown that 80% of new expats get no help with housing costs and a large majority said they are paying more than they can afford for a place to live. ‘New arrivals have no network, they don’t understand the Dutch system and they often have no choice but to pay rents that Dutch people would consider absurd because they need a place to live,’ said ICAP board member Deborah Valentine. Some 25% of people considered to be expats earn less than €3,000 a month. Local elections The SP is part of the current left-wing coalition running the Dutch capital and controls the housing portfolio. The party campaigned in last year’s local elections on an ‘Amsterdam for the Amsterdammers’ ticket. Meanwhile, Sebastiaan Capel, who heads up the Zuid borough council and represents the Liberal democratic party D66, has described Flentge’s comments as ‘xenophobic and populist’. DutchNews.nl has contacted Erik Flentge and Laurens Ivens for comment.

Wages rose an average 2.1% last year, highest increase since 2009

Pay deals agreed in sector-wide talks were up by an average of 2.1% last year, the highest increase since 2009, the national statistics agency CBS said on Thursday. That year the effect of the economic crisis still had to be fully felt and wages rose 2.8%. In 2017, wages rose 1.8%, the highest rise in six years. Unions, economists, prime minister Mark Rutte and the central bank chief have all called for wages to go up because of the improved economic conditions. Workers are also set to keep more of their income this year because of income tax cuts this year. In September, the biggest Dutch trade union federation FNV said it is targeting a pay rise of 5% in the coming round of pay and conditions talks, its biggest demand in 30 years.

Books promoting radical Islam in Dutch high security prison library

Books by radical Muslims, including by people banned from entering the UK for praising suicide bombings, are available in the library at the high security prison in Vught, the Telegraaf said on Friday. MPs from the Christian Democratic party CDA and the anti-Islam PVV have asked the government to explain why the books are kept in a prison library used by people convicted of terrorism offences in the Netherlands. ‘It is incomprehensible that such books are being loaned to dangerous prisoners,’ MP Madeleine van Toorenburg told the paper. ‘It is hard enough as it is to help prisoners ditch their radical ideas and it does not help if they can read books about intolerance and armed jihad in their own cells.’ Among the books which the Telegraaf says are in the library are works by Bilal Philips, who has been banned from Britain and whose books were taken out of British prison libraries in 2016. The Dutch prison service has confirmed that controversial books are in the library but said that experts assess all requests for loans to see if they should be granted. And VVD parliamentarian Foort van Oosten told the paper that taking action against ‘wrong’ books does not fit in with the concept of a free society. ‘We can’t exactly go through every book looking for offensive texts and removing them,’ he said.

People with Down ‘never stop learning’, US-Dutch research shows

People with Down syndrome never stop learning and continue to acquire functional skills well into adulthood, according to a new mass study by US and Dutch researchers. The research is based on the experiences of more than 2,600 families in the US and the Netherlands and coordinated by researchers from the Dutch Down Syndrome Foundation and the Massachussetts General Hospital. ‘Contrary to some public beliefs, people with Down syndrome never stop learning, and functional skills can still be attained and improved well into adulthood,’ director of the programme Brian Skotko told the Harvard Gazette. The results in both the US – based on questionnaires in 2008 and 2009 – and the Netherlands (questionnaire in 2016) were broadly similar. They indicated that most people with Down syndrome could walk by 25 months of age, speak reasonably well by age 12, maintain personal hygiene by 13, and work independently by 20. By the age of 31, 49% were reading reasonably well, 46% could write reasonably well, 34% were living independently, and around 30% could travel independently. ‘Now we have guideposts — based on the responses of thousands of parents — that can help clinicians know when children may be falling behind their peers with Down syndrome and, when necessary, refer parents to additional supports, resources, and therapies,’ Skotko said.

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