Prinsjesdag 2023: Professors advise ministers for a fairer society through more government regulations
Despite the fact that on Prinsjesdag 2023 a caretaker government will present its last budget and, moreover, disappear in November after the elections, a number of Tilburg University scholars present the current and future members of the government with their advice based on their expertise. They do so in the areas of housing, poverty, labor market and care, arguing for more direction and measures from the government.
Subsidies for new construction and bonus for sustainable housing
Professor of Real Estate Markets Dirk Brounen: “Two smart incentives can contribute to a more relaxed, green housing market. First, now home ownership is not the big problem, but more the housing supply, and the shortage of it. A large-scale program in which the central government gives a subsidy for new construction could certainly help to boost the tight supply. That could help achieve the minister's building ambitions, and you could tie that subsidy to a set of requirements, just as in the 1970s, so that the money doesn't disappear into the profit margin of speculators.”
Brounen also proposed his plan 'Bonus B': a reduction on the mortgage interest rate for all homeowners who make their existing home more sustainable to energy label B or better in the coming years. “Nowadays as a buyer you only can receive this discount on the interest rate when the house is bought, but the buyer and the country will achieve much more impact when the government also rewards the owners who make the already purchased house more sustainable. After all, it is important that eventually the entire housing stock becomes sustainable.”
Making choices to strengthen broad welfare
Professor of Labor Law Ton Wilthagen: “The government would be wise to respond much more and faster to the socially disruptive consequences of the structural shortages on the labor market, which have arisen due to the drastic aging and de-greening of the (professional) population.
Shortage is choice: we in the Netherlands must prepare for the situation in which we can no longer do everything we do now, in terms of production and service provision. We will have to make choices about the (in)direction of the economy, labor market and education, which can maintain and strengthen the broad prosperity in the Netherlands. These choices cannot simply be left to the market, so more direction must come from government, civil society organizations and citizens themselves.”
Lift barriers so that people can help each other more easily
Theologian Prof. Willem Marie Speelman argues that the government focuses on problems: it establishes a commission against loneliness, and a ministry to combat poverty. But a deficit is not always a problem to be solved. Believe it or not, but there are people who seek solitude and choose to live poor. In the recognition that people can live good and happy lives with their deficits begins a politics that we might call "positive politics”. Positive politics is not the work of government, but the functioning of a society. Positive politics designs society so that all people from different backgrounds have the opportunity to listen to each other's stories, and lend a helping hand where necessary. The government only needs to remove what hinders those opportunities, starting with canceling debt and lifting every prohibition on offering a helping hand to one another. Positive politics believes in people.
Better rules and funding for youth who come of age in social services
Chijs van Nieuwenhuizen, Professor of Forensic Mental Health and Special Professor of Transforming for Youth, points out to the new cabinet the problematic transition of young people who come of age in social services. “Because they are suddenly adults before the law, they have to deal with all kinds of laws and regulations in which they are not guided: from finding housing, to dealing with money, etc.
If you want to give young people good care and treatment, they need more support precisely at this stage of life. A combination of psychosocial and practical help is needed to increase the self-reliance of the young adult. Better cooperation between the different sectors, such as between adult mental health and youth care, and more harmonized laws, regulations and funding are badly needed to give young people adequate care and guidance.”
Important tax plans for multinationals and citizens
Even though the cabinet is outgoing, there are important tax plans in the pipeline. For example, the Minimum Tax Act is currently pending in the House of Representatives. "This law regulates that multinationals with a consolidated turnover of more than 750 million euros must start paying at least 15 percent tax on profits," explains professor of tax economics Stan Stevens. "The introduction of this law will be a major administrative challenge for the multinationals involved and the Tax Administration. The idea is that the new regulation will also lead to more tax revenue for developing countries, but it is very questionable whether that will be the result in practice. Another important effect of the new law is that an environmental investment deduction will no longer be effective if it results in a tax burden of less than 15 percent. So countries will have to use non-tax measures if they want to incentivize companies to invest in a particular direction."
In addition, many citizens will face a revision of “Box 3”, Stevens foresees. "A draft bill has now been published. The purpose of this law is to tax the actual return on assets. This is a good idea because taxing the actual return is more equitable than the current flat tax in “Box 3”. However, the implementation is not that simple. There are still many technical kinks in the proposal that will be discussed in the coming period."
Dirk BrounenProfessor of Real Estate Markets
Ton WilthagenProfessor of Labor Law
Willem Marie SpeelmanTheologian
Chijs van NieuwenhuizenEndowed Professor of Transforming for Youth
Stan StevensProfessor of Tax Economics