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Our advice on the biggest challenges of the Netherlands

The Netherlands is facing considerable challenges. Recovery from the coronacrisis is the latest issue on a policy agenda that was already bursting at the seams with major social challenges in areas such as the energy transition, education, housing and security. This comes at a time when the limits of market forces are coming into view and the emphasis is shifting from shareholder value to the broader stakeholder value. In the run-up to the formation of a new government and the coalition agreement, our experts share their vision on challenges the Netherlands faces.

Government, use the momentum to tackle major social issues

The COVID-19 crisis has enlarged the role of the government and improved its ratings. According to PwC's chief economist Jan Willem Velthuijsen and chairman of the Public Sector Group Richard Goldstein, the government should take advantage of this momentum to tackle major social issues. Even a stronger, more decisive government cannot solve them on its own. This also calls for the involvement of citizens, civil society organisations, implementing agencies and – last but by no means least – the business community. We set out to connect these parties because only by working together can we find ways to move forward sustainably.

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Verkiezingen Nederland

Focus on the pupil, not the technology.

Together with the other ministries concerned, the Ministry of Education needs to formulate a more overall vision for education, the role of technology and the health of young people.

  • Avoid focusing on technology.
  • Consider the desired learning outcomes during technological transformations.
  • Provide a healthy living environment in schools.

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Central control and a stronger political mandate needed for digitalisation

A government wanting to improve how its policy is implemented cannot escape the need to improve its digital infrastructure. This calls for more central control and a stronger political mandate. Our advice is this:

  • Have the top echelons of ministries take ownership.
  • Provide temporary rather than structural extra budget.
  • Reward successful ministries that perform well.

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Woningcorporaties van de toekomst

Healthcare of the future: better and less expensive

The challenge of healthcare: how do we maintain and improve the quality and accessibility of healthcare whilst reducing its overall cost? Three major issues call for attention and solutions:

  • accelerating and scaling up healthcare innovation
  • retaining the accessibility and affordability of medicines
  • addressing labour market issues.

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A Ministry of Housing

A Minister of Housing who takes back central control of the construction and planning of new housing is needed to solve the problems in the housing market.

  • It will not be enough to abolish or reduce the landlord levy.
  • Reintroduce a Ministry of Housing, with its own minister and budget.
  • The ministry would deal not only with the housing corporations, but with all the parties involved.

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Arbeidsmarkt - Vergroot motivatie werknemers

Increase employee motivation

The outgoing government's plans to reform the allowances system present an immediate opportunity to solve staff shortages in the healthcare sector, explains Bastiaan Starink. His advice:

  • Base retraining on the needs of employers.
  • Make sure that it pays to work more hours.
  • Increase employee motivation by making jobs more attractive.

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Ban on sale of new fuel-driven vehicles by 2030 is achievable

The ambition of the Climate Agreement to sell only fully electric new vehicles in the Netherlands from 2030 is achievable. By that time, there will be enough affordable models on the market, enough charging points and enough green electricity to run these vehicles. That's according to the PwC study "The achievability of 28 billion electric vehicle kilometres by 2030".

  • By 2030, we will be working towards 1.9 million fully electric vehicles.
  • A gradual increase in electric vehicles is vital to allow us to put the infrastructure in order.
  • Appeal to the next government: devise an integrated mobility strategy.

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Security is a matter for many ministries

The digital world has now become part of the fabric of the physical world. This calls for a fundamentally different approach to the concept of security.

  • Make security a matter for all ministries involved.
  • Involve businesses and citizens.
  • Adjust HR policies to acquire the desired skills.

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Put social issues at the heart of tax reform 

Last year, in its "building blocks report", the Dutch government presented policy options for making the tax system future-proof, something that a new government can use as a starting point. PwC believes that social issues, rather than tax issues, should be the guiding principle. 

  • Momentum is growing in favour of a fundamental review of the tax system.

  • A precondition for this is higher budgets for implementation.

  • The formation of a new government coalition must result in the greening of the tax system.

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'Many citizens are questioning whether the government actually works for them. This underlines the need for a renewed relationship between government and citizens. A relationship based on trust rather than mistrust.'

Jan Willem Velthuijsen - chief economist PwC
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