Prinsjesdag update: the effects of the corona related measures on the budget of the Dutch government and on organisations

Utrecht, September 2020

The way the Dutch government has provided organisations with financial aid much resembles the way a housefire is tackled. Everything is aimed towards putting out the fire and all the available water is thrown onto it. The government has now provided several financial measures and the smoke is clearing. We can now start to look at the effects of the measurement on organisations. In this analysis of the ‘Miljoenennota’, the Dutch budget for 2021, we look at the financial measures and its effects on the budget and on organisations.

The coronavirus has an enormous impact on the government’s budgets for 2020 and 2021. The government expects a deficit in both years, mostly caused by the financial measurements which were issued to counter the negative effects of the coronavirus on organisations and the economy. For most organisations, 2021 will probably become a very difficult year. Much of the financial aid they have received in 2020, amounting to €27.3 bn will no longer be available in 2021. In fact, in 2021 the financial aid will only amount to €6.9 bn. Furthermore, organisations will need to start paying deferred taxes. It is therefore likely that the number of bankrupt organisations, which was extremely low in August 2020, will increase in 2021. Organisations should prepare themselves and adapt to the new situation by analysing their performance and by exploring the options available to them. 

The financial measurements that were issued by the government in response to the coronacrisis have lead to a deficit in the government’s budget amounting to €56.31 bn in 2020 and will also have a negative impact on the budget for 2021, as documents published by the Dutch government on Tuesday 15th of September indicate.2 The measures have – for now – reached the desired effect of keeping organisations afloat. It is, however, uncertain to what extent organisations have recovered. In 2021 they will need to start to (re)pay deferred taxes and emergency loans. The Dutch governments seems to expect an increase in bankruptcies, as they predict an increase in the unemployment rate in 2021.

In this article, we will first focus on the effects of the emergency measures on the Dutch budgets for 2020 and 2021. Subsequently, we will review the effects of the emergency measures on Dutch organisations and bankruptcies. Even without a second lockdown, an increase in the amount of bankruptcies seems likely.

Effects of the emergency measures on the government’s budgets for 2020 and 2021

Emergency measures in 2020: €33.9 bn expenditures

The Dutch government expected a budget surplus for 2020 amounting to €1.9 bn. Instead, mainly due to the coronavirus, the budget now faces a deficit of €56.3 bn. The coronavirus has lead to a decrease in tax revenues amounting to €22.5 bn. Furthermore, the Dutch government issued emergency measures, totaling €33.9 bn. This amount contains, amongst others, the purchases of emergency medical equipment, test equipment, as well as measures that aim to provide financial aid to organisations and self-employed citizens. The graph below shows the effect of the coronameasures on the Dutch budget for 2020. 

The coronameasures, totalling €33.9 bn, contain expenditures such as the purchases of emergency medical equipment and test equipment, as well as the financial aid packages which were aimed at helping organisations and self-employed. The graph below divides the coronameasures into two categories: measures aimed at helping organisations and self-employed citizens (€27.3 bn) and ‘other’ measures (€6.6 bn). 

            

The financial aid measurements for businesses and self-employed citizens form the largest part of the total coronameasures (€27.3 bn compared to €33.9 bn total). These financial aid measures are the so-called ‘NOW’ (€18.6 bn)3, ‘Tozo’ (€3.6 bn), ‘TVL’ (€1.4 bn), aid for public transport companies (€1.3 bn), and the ‘TOGS’ (€0.9 bn). Organisations that have used these aid measures do not have to pay anything back, unless they have made use of the measures on false grounds. The ‘other’ expenditures shown in the graph above mainly consists of expenditures with respect to the purchases of medical equipment (€1.7 bn) and a bonus for healthcare workers (€1.3 bn).

Besides abovementioned measures, the Dutch government also allowed organisations to defer their tax payments for many months in 2020. 128.000 organisations have made use of this possibility so far. The government expects the total amount of deferred taxes to be €13.1 bn in 2020. This does not have an effect on the expected deficit in the budget, as these taxes will have to be paid in full eventually. Organisations will have the possibility to further defer taxes up until the 1st of January 2021. From this day onward, organisations can no longer defer taxes and will have to repay their tax liabilities, for which they will be given 2 years time.  

Emergency measures in 2021

The Dutch government will provide less financial aid in 2021. In 2020, the coronameasures amounted to €33.9 bn, however, in 2021 this amount will be a mere €10.7 bn. Of this amount, only €6.9 bn will be provided towards the financial aid of organisations and self-employed citizens, compared to €27.3 bn in 2020. Furthermore, the government will be more strict in their policy. Organisations applying for the ‘NOW’, for example, now need to face a decrease in revenues of 30% instead of 20%, which was the necessary condition in the ‘old’ policy. Furthermore, the height of the financial aid provided to organisations and self-employed citizens will decrease over time.

Despite the reduced amount of coronameasures, the Dutch government still expects a large deficit in its 2021 budget amounting to €44.9 bn. This deficit is mainly caused by the coronameasures as well as by the expected increase in the unemployment rate in 2021. The Dutch government expects this rate to increase from a historical low of 3% at the start of 2020 to 6% in 2021.

Effects on organisations: the financial impact of the coronavirus will be noticed in 2021

The emergency measures have lead to a remarkable reduction in the number of bankruptcies in the Netherlands. Statistics Netherlands (CBS), The Dutch bureau for statistical analysis, has indicated that the number of bankruptcies decreased each month in the months May, June, July and August of 2020. In the first half of 2020, the total number of bankruptcies was equal to that of the first half of 2019. The number of bankruptcies in August 2020 was the lowest number in 21 years.4 Thanks to the emergency measures, many organisations seem to have been kept afloat.

This trend could change radically in 2021. The financial aid provided by the government will be much lower in 2021 compared to 2020, and organisations will need to repay their deferred taxes and their emergency loans. The Dutch government expects more organisations to fail in 2021, they state that a new wave of bankruptcies can not be ruled out. We unfortunately agree. It is unclear to what extent organisations have used the financial aid to buy time and adapt to the new situation by restructuring their business.

Actions

Organisations and entrepeneurs should try their best at adapting to the new situation. They should first focus on their liquidity. Next, it is essential to analyse the business in order to find out which products/business lines/business units are generating profits and which are not. This information is key in making substantiated strategic decisions. Wherever possible, organisations can improve its efficiency. For near-insolvent organisations, the new Dutch law on a Scheme of Arrangement, the Act on the Confirmation of Private Restructuring Plans (ACPRP), can provide an outcome. The law is expected to come into effect in November 1st 2020. We highly recommend organisations to assess all available options.  

 

 

 Footnotes:

1            We base this number on the deficit including the decentral (local) governments.

2            We base our analysis on the Miljoenennota 2021 and the appendices.

3            We did not account for differences w.r.t. the NOW-facility due to timing effects. This can have an effect of €2n to €4n on the shown figures 

4            Source: CBS.

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