NETHERLANDS - Take-up of the Dutch tax-friendly life course or ‘levensloop' savings scheme has stabilised and approximately 10% of workers were members of schemes in 2008, the Dutch Association of Insurers (VvV) has claimed.

That said, data from CVS, the VvV's statistics office, suggested employee interest towards taking part in the scheme has fallen dramatically to just 1% of workers, down from 5% in 2006.

The levensloop was introduced in 2006, to encourage people to finance parental leave as well as leave for a sabbatical, education and care.

Although its main aim was to discourage people from taking early retirement, the levensloop still allowed its deposits to be used for that very purpose.

The latest CVS research found that two-thirds of the participants questioned want to use their levensloop funds for early retirement. But this has left VvV officials questioning whether the savings scheme now contributes to its original purpose.

The CVS also found that 86% of non-participants have no intention of joining the life course scheme. The lack of interest is largely because non-participants fail to see the benefits of the scheme, or because they are already taking saving via ‘sparloon', another tax-friendly savings scheme, according to the CVS.

Ludger Bruijn, policy adviser of the VvV, believes it is not sensible to limit workers' participation to just one of these schemes.

"We think the levensloop would have much more interest if it is also opened to self-employed people, and if it were to offer employers more options in the way in which it encourages their staff to participate," argued Bruijn.

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