Bread Funds

Self-organised solidarity insurance

Bread Funds

Self-organised solidarity insurance

Bread Funds

Dutch self-employed people once had rights to statutory sick pay under a scheme called WAZ, in return for paying national insurance contributions into the scheme. However, WAZ was abolished on 1 August 2004, and the Dutch government advised self-employed people to take out income protection insurance to provide equivalent cover. For some occupations such as the building trades, the premiums quoted were staggering, and could be as high as €600 to €800 per month. Many self-employed people could not afford income protection insurance. In response to this, self-employed people in a co-operative network called Solidair4 set up their own “gift circle” (schenkkring), where each member put aside money each month in a special account from which donations were made to support any member who became unable to work through illness or injury for an extended period. They decided to call this gift circle Broodfonds (Bread Fund); in Dutch, just as in English, the word for bread is also a slang term for money. After this first “Bread Fund” ran successfully for several years, three of its members decided to set up a venture called De BroodfondsMakers (The Bread Fund Makers) to help other self-employed people set up Bread Fund groups.

Bread Funds

On 1 July 2017, The Netherlands counted 278 bread funds in 121 different places. Another 20 breadfunds are about to start. With 12.425 self-employed business people is the movement an example of how self-employed people organise themselves, working together, on money & insurance issues.

The Dutch system is based on every member opening a personal Bread Fund bank account into which they pay money each month by standing order. If anyone in their Bread Fund is ill, payments are made from the accounts of all the Bread Fund members, so the person who is ill receives numerous small payments which together provide a replacement income. The payments are all in the form of direct personal gifts from one member to another. The process is managed by the BroodfondsMakers administration team and approved by the committee of each Bread Fund. This system was set up following meetings with the Dutch tax authorities, who approved it.

Ivo Valkenburg

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