How is the settlement of the benefits affair going?

โ€œIt‘s a black page in the history of the Dutch government,โ€ Prime Minister Rutte wrote exactly a year ago. That day, the cabinet resigned because of the childcare allowance, which transformed the lives of tens of thousands of people into โ€œa swamp of miseryโ€ in Rutte’s words.

The then cabinet promised better: in a long parliamentary letter, improvements were proposed that should prevent repetition. What has come of the most important promises so far?

1. Faster and wider recovery for parents

One promise was at the top: help all the duped parents as soon as possible. Then Secretary of State Van Huffelen announced just a few weeks before the fall of the cabinet that duped parents would receive 30,000 euros after a brief check of their file.

But it was precisely this scheme that turned out to be serious delays, because the number of registrations increased considerably from then on:

Almost half of these people didn‘t get through the first test, some of them didn’t even have children. Others received 30,000 euros again, while they had participated in fraud. In any case, all those applications resulted in much more work to the Tax Authorities.

Tens of thousands of parents are now waiting for a more comprehensive assessment. This takes a lot of time: for example, compiling a personal file takes almost three working weeks on average, because, among other things, it must be checked whether there is no personal data in it. More than a thousand people are now working on the recovery operation.

Most parents also don‘t have a personal case practitioner, where they can go with questions:

A month ago, Van Huffelen promised again that help for parents will be improved. This way, municipalities will help to help parents faster. Parents are also more likely to receive a personal conversation. In the meantime, there is still a lot of extra work to be done for the tax authorities, because extra arrangements will also be provided for former partners and children.

2. Money not to creditors, but to parents

Another problem that loomed was that money for compensation was paid directly to creditors, because many parents had big debts due to the payment affair. That’s why Van Huffelen promised to scold government debt and take over those of private creditors.

Government organizations have now been clearing the debts of victims for a number of months. For private debts, victims can now report to Social Banks Netherlands.

Some resentment is affected, because informal debts in friends and family are only recognized if a notarized deed has been made of it. Many victims did not do that, partly because of the costs. The government is not taking over those debts right now.

3. Strengthen service

Many victims received bad or no answers to questions for years. That is why Rutte promised a year ago that the government‘s services would be improved, including by expanding the number of locations of the Tax Authorities and Surcharges you can visit.

That’s what happened, says the Ministry of Finance. There were already 21 counters in tax offices where people could report. Nine points of support have been added in municipal offices in the last six months, especially outside the Randstad.

4. Discrimination and use of nationality

Parents who think they were discriminated against, referred Rutte in his letter to the College of Human Rights. The victims can ask for a judgement there, 55 people have done that by now.

But it will take a while before the first case serves. The College first wants to conduct a general investigation into discrimination in Surcharges. The results are expected sometime this year, until then no individual sessions will be scheduled.

5. Stop surcharges in the current form

โ€œContinuing as in the past is no longer possible,โ€ Rutte wrote a year ago: there must be a new payment system, in which parents are no longer fully responsible for funding. That plan is also in the new coalition agreement. The first steps will have to be taken by the new Secretary of State for Surcharges and Customs Aukje de Vries.

She

also awaits the arduous task of bringing the parental allowance to a successful conclusion this cabinet period. โ€œIt‘s a tough job, but I’m going to do my stinky best to find solutions for parents,โ€ she said earlier. The victims can report until the end of next year.

Politics will also look back next year. After the interrogation committee, the House of Representatives will begin a parliamentary survey in the summer to reflect on this โ€œblack page in historyโ€.