30 November 2023, by Emily Proctor
Fewer companies than expected have gone bankrupt since the COVID-19 pandemic, even despite the ongoing recession, according to Dutch broadcaster NOS. However, it’s not all good news for business owners, as many more entrepreneurs have been seen arriving at the doors of aid agencies seeking help and support with rental costs, debt and taxes.
Relatively few companies declaring bankruptcy since the COVID-19 crisis
The number of companies declaring bankruptcy since the COVID-19 crisis, though rising overall, is much smaller than seen in previous recessions. In the past 12 months, Statistics Netherlands (CBS) counted 3.123 bankruptcies, which is three times less than in the wake of the credit crisis in 2013.
According to Statistics Netherlands, around 193.000 entrepreneurs are struggling with tax debts from the coronavirus period, which puts them at risk of getting a visit from bailiffs. This number is high, which makes it even more surprising that relatively few companies are going bankrupt considering the economic circumstances.
Small business owners seeking more help from aid organisations
Small businesses in the Netherlands are, despite not going into bankruptcy en masse, seeking out more help from aid agencies and support with debt relief. According to NOS, organisations such as Over Rood, where entrepreneurs can work with volunteers to tackle their business problems, are seeing more and more self-employed people walk through the door. The newspaper found that in 2020, 607 aid programs were started, but the counter for 2023 is already at 1.465.
One volunteer at Over Rood centre in Apeldoorn told the newspaper his story: he used to be an entrepreneur in the flower industry until things went awry. “It went well in the beginning, but it quickly became less so. Then you just have to muddle through,” he said. He now has a new job, and once a week helps people at the centre to get the help that they need – “What you often see, for example, is that entrepreneurs instruct the bank to refund the rent paid. They do not realise that they can then be evicted.”