Groningen mayor to quit, will claim benefits while doing voluntary work

There is anger in Groningen after it emerged mayor Peter Rehwinkel is standing down in November to do an unpaid job in Spain and will claim special civil service benefits while doing so, Nos television said on Wednesday.

Rehwinkel is joining a Spanish organisation which helps local governments prepare for emergencies. He will be working for the body in Rabat, Morocco, Nos television said.

But the six-month post is unpaid and Rehwinkel plans to use the civil service unemployment benefit system – known as wachtgeld – to fund his work.


‘I expect to make limited use of my right to benefits,’ Rehwinkel is quoted as saying by local broadcaster RTV Noord.

Rehwinkel’s decision to leave the Groningen job, which he described as ‘heavy’ comes two years ahead of the end of his contract.

Councillors from the Liberal democrat D66 questioned Rehwinkel’s right to claim the money because he is stepping down from the mayor’s job voluntarily. The VVD Liberals want changes in the wachtgeld ruling.

‘Rehwinkel is going to do voluntary work in Barcelona, and Groningen will pay,’ said VVD councillor Max Blom, using Twitter. Rehwinkel is entitled to 80% of his mayoral salary for the first year of unemployment.

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