This is a topic that is both sensitive and complex: should unemployment benefits be limited in time? We asked this question to the Belgians via the large RTL info barometer Ipsos Le Soir: do you think unemployment benefits should be limited to 2 years? The answer is yes, it’s a good idea for 58% of Belgians surveyed. And it’s not a bad idea for 27%. 15% of Belgians are cautious and they do not know. Let’s analyze the survey figures in detail.
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REGION. The Flemings are more keen on the idea than the Walloons and the Brussels residents. Two out of three Flemish people are for (63%), one in two Walloons (51%) and the people of Brussels are more mixed (46% for and 38% against). One in 6 French speakers has no opinion.
POLITICAL IDEOLOGY. Respondents close to the Socialist Party or Green/Groen are against the idea of limiting unemployment benefits over time. All other parties are for it. The N-VA, Open VLD and the MR exceed 70% favorable opinions and Vlaams Belang and CD&V are at 65% favorable opinions. Around 50%, we find the PTB committed and challenging as well as Vooruit on the Flemish side. Within the current federal coalition (Vivaldi), four parties are for (MR, Open VLD, CD&V and Vooruit) and three are against (Ecolo, PS and Groen). In opposition, the PTB and Défi are against. The Engagés are for it, as is the NVA.
SITUATION SOCIAL. The employers are for this proposal to limit unemployment benefits to two years and the unions are against.
Recipients of unemployment benefit for more than two years represent 43% of unemployed in Wallonia and 47% in Brussels. Returning to the job market is more complicated after a year of unemployment, even more so after 2 years. This is due in particular to a loss of self-confidence and greater difficulty in convincing the employer.
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What would be the impact on public finances? the limitation of unemployment benefits to 2 years? The main expected effect is a return to employment and a reduction in unemployment, but to the extent that this will push people towards other statuses (illness, disability, CPAS, etc.), expenses will increase in other sectors. Calculating the gain for public finances taken as a whole is therefore difficult and uncertain.
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