More debt help entrepreneurs

May 14, 2024

In the wake of economic turbulence exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, an escalating number of entrepreneurs are turning to debt relief organizations for financial assistance. The umbrella organization NVVK (Dutch Association for Debt Relief and Social Banking) notes a significant rise in the need for help, with even higher income earners seeking support.


According to NVVK's annual report, the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic is cited as one of the primary causes of financial woes among entrepreneurs. The group of entrepreneurs facing monetary challenges surged by a staggering 62 percent between 2022 and 2023, predominantly comprising sole proprietors and small-scale enterprises.

Mounting debts

Approximately 400,000 entrepreneurs requested tax deferrals during the pandemic. By the end of 2023, it became apparent that around 226,000 entrepreneurs still had outstanding debts to the tax authorities. Although a payment arrangement was in place since October 2022, many entrepreneurs either failed to pay their debts or only partially cleared them.

A considerable portion of 43,000 entrepreneurs made no payments at all, while another group of 91,000 paid sporadically. Consequently, the tax authorities issued notices and revoked the payment arrangements for these two groups.

Income levels

"As it became evident throughout last year that the Tax Authority would begin collecting deferred payments in the fall of 2023, entrepreneurs realized they needed to take action," stated the umbrella organization. The average debt among entrepreneurs, as per NVVK, stands at €72,244.

Due to the increasing proportion of entrepreneurs seeking assistance, the average income level of all applicants also rose. More individuals with middle incomes are grappling with financial challenges. "The trend highlights that even with a job earning a moderate income (€1,995-€3,458 gross per month), the affordability of livelihoods can be strained," writes NVVK.

Financial assistance

In its annual report, the umbrella organization underscores the importance of collaboration between various entities in debt relief efforts and advocates for a standardized level of service provision, termed as "basic service delivery."

"This indicates standardizing financial assistance services across the Netherlands. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment concluded from its research that top-performing municipalities reach far more debtors in need than others," NVVK states.

When all municipalities reach the level of the leading ones, the number of debt settlement plans could double to 45,000 annually, according to a November 2023 parliamentary letter from the Ministry. "This is crucial in light of the goal to halve the number of individuals with problematic debts by 2030 compared to 2015," NVVK concludes.