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Communes could call on the long-term unemployed
Senator Rik Daems wants the benefits granted to the long-term unemployed to be paid out in return for mandatory community service. Any person who has not worked for a year should report one day a week to their town hall to help with simple administrative tasks or with the maintenance of public parks, he argues in De Morgen . "There are currently 559,000 unemployed people in Belgium, 417,000 of which are on benefits. This costs society €8.9bn, or 25% of Belgium’s personal income, in exchange for which they are required to do nothing." According to Daems’s Flemish Liberal party (Open VLD), society fails to involve the long-term unemployed; Daems therefore advocates a mandatory day of community service which could help people build social contacts, to empower them and maybe even find a job. Those who have not worked for at least two years could even be made to do two days’ community service per week, he argues. "The idea is not to intimidate the long-term unemployed. But they could do society a favour, which would also be a gesture of solidarity," Daems says, adding that his proposal would not apply to the sick or the disabled. Daems had already floated the idea in 2006, but it had received a lukewarm welcome from his own party.