Belgium in Brief: When is a €500 cheque not a good deal?

Belgium in Brief: When is a €500 cheque not a good deal?

Just as a Covid-free summer seems to finally be beckoning, we find ourselves gripped by economic uncertainty. In a cruel turn of events, the savings that many were able to put aside during the pandemic have now been gnawed away by inflation and rising household bills.

After two years of health restrictions and cancelled holidays, life is giving us more lemons – the cost of living is now the number one concern for Belgians.

Yet it isn't only individuals who are feeling the pinch; businesses are also worried that their costs are becoming untenable. This has now led the Flemish employers' association to call on the Government to replace Belgium's automatic wage indexation with a €500 cheque. 86% of Flemish companies have stated that staff salaries are simply becoming unaffordable and present a serious threat to Belgium's ability to compete on the international stage.

But though such a measure might help companies cut some costs, the measure would put the financial burden back on the shoulders of individual employees. Furthermore, the blanket figure of €500 would represent a long-term loss to all but the very lowest earners. With unions already organising further strikes next week, this proposal would go down like a lead balloon.

However, government ministers have dismissed the idea and instead suggested alternative measures to assist ailing businesses. Yet as Europe's energy conundrum deteriorates, further aid will likely be needed – both for individuals and companies.

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