Published June 10, 2010
Unemployed Dutch women are being offered a $1,695 fashion and beauty makeover and free membership of a dating agency to get them off unemployment benefits by finding an employed husband. Single job-seekers will be given a new hairstyle and outfit, and tips from a life coach on how to attract a new partner or a job.
They will also be given instruction in social and presentation skills and a place on the exclusive matchmaking service Mens & Relatie (People and Relationships), boosted by a professional photograph of their new image. Mens & Relatie claims a 75 percent success rate in finding long-term partners for its clients.
The thinking behind the scheme, organized by three councils in Friesland, in the north of the Netherlands, is that finding love helps to get the unemployed off state benefits by improving confidence, ambition and motivation. Some local politicians, however, have criticized it as unethical and a waste of taxpayers’ money.
“This is a total concept of trying to get people out of social security,” said Radboud Visser, the managing director of Mens & Relatie, which was hired by the three municipalities to find employed new partners for unemployed lonely hearts. “We know from national statistics that people in a relationship have better health, more happiness, make more money and live longer lives. They make less use of medical systems and social security. So in Friesland they thought, we can try to get people out of social security by bringing them to a nice new husband.”
Mr. Visser said that the first candidate for the scheme had already enrolled. It is available to men and women, but he said he expected most of his clients to be female. “Social security costs €650 a month and Friesland pays us around €650 once — so when they are able to get someone out of social security, they have made their money back after just one month,” he said.