Home affairs minister Ronald Plasterk has made €4.6m available to help local authorities combat fraud with housing, health insurance and child benefits following media claims of widespread problems.
The minister said the cabinet is well aware of the issues and doing all it can to combat fraud. For example, 1,200 civil servants are being given extra training in fraud awareness and councils are being helped to get their basic citizens’ registration systems properly organised.
Some 90% of Dutch households receive some form of housing, health insurance or child benefit.
MPs demanded urgent action to curb benefit fraud after the village of Bronckhorst in Gelderland sounded the alarm.
The town council turned up over 100 cases of fraud in a single year in Bronckhorst, which has a population of 38,000, RTL news reported.
One popular trick in the village was for new fathers to write themselves out of the family home, so that their partners could claim hundreds of euros in extra benefits as single parents. In reality, the father continued to live with his partner and children.
The switch can boost benefit claims from €350 a month to €850, RTL said.
According to the national citizen’s affairs council NVVB, an umbrella organisation for city and town benefit agencies, fraud with healthcare, housing and child benefits is common throughout the country.
Although the NVVB has no concrete figures, the problem is nationwide, deputy chairman Simon Rijsdijk told RTL. Fraud can be checked easily by personal visits, he said.
‘This is not peanuts. We are talking about huge sums of money,’ Bronckhorst mayor Fred de Graaf told RTL news.
Junior finance minister Frans Weekers said in a reaction to the Bronckhorst scandal he is in talks with larger local authorities in an effort to tackle fraud. But the issue is primarily one for the home affairs ministry, which monitors local authority registrations, RTL quoted the minister as saying.
Earlier this year there was an outcry when it emerged organised gangs of Bulgarian nationals were able to cash in on housing and healthcare benefits in Rotterdam without living in the Netherlands.
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