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Dutch Cabinet to review pensions bills after political support wanes

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The Dutch Cabinet is to review its plans to change tax-friendly pensions accrual after it became clear its two bills on the issue lacked sufficient support in the Senate.

Only the coalition parties of VVD and PvdA – which have a slight majority in the Lower House but depend on opposition support in the Senate – expressed support for the bill to decrease tax-facilitated accrual from 2.15% to 1.75%.

The PvdA in particular argued that a reduced pensions accrual must lead to lower contributions.

However, in the opinion of the opposition, the bill does too little to guarantee that pension funds will lower their premiums.

It also criticised the Cabinet for ignoring signals from the pensions sector that the accrual decrease would fail to achieve the predicted €6bn in savings for the national budget.

The opposition in the Senate also poured scorn on the government’s claim the reduced accrual still allowed for an adequate pension of 70% of the average salary.

Kees Kok, senator for the Freedom Party (PVV), said: “The government’s assumption that employees keep on working until the official retirement age, and that there would be a full indexation for at least 40 years, is dubious.”

The other bill – which provides tax relief on 0.1% of workers’ income of up to €100,000 and 1.85% of income exceeding this amount – gained no traction in the Senate at all.

Although the VVD and the PvdA approved the proposal in the Lower House, their senators said they could not support the bill in its current form.

VVD senator Willem Bröcker said: “The costs of implementation are too high for this marginal additional scheme.”

He said he doubted whether pension providers would be willing to offer such arrangements anyway, “as providers also have a care duty”.

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