City of Utrecht What works: studying the effects of fewer rules in social assistance

The Dutch Participation Act (Participatiewet) prescribes strict duties and entitlement conditions for people who receive social assistance. Whether the current provisions are the best way to help social assistance claimants remains to be seen. What are alternative approaches, and are there approaches that are simpler or better? This is what we want to find out.

The study is called What Works (in Dutch: Weten wat Werkt). In collaboration with Utrecht University and a group of social assistance claimants we are studying the effects of an approach based on fewer rules giving claimants more freedom for their own initiative. We want to find out if such an approach helps people to actively participate in society (e.g. by doing voluntary work) and/or find a job more quickly. We will also study the effects on health and well-being, on debts, and on whether people are satisfied with their situation.

There will be several treatment groups in the study. For every group we use a different approach. The study will end in October 2019. At the end, the results of all these groups will be compared to find out what worked best.

Enrolment of participants will start in February 2018, so you cannot register for participation yet. Early next year, all social assistance claimants will receive further information about the study.