Political control over three major policy areas is failing because local government civil servants are not being told what their democratic role is.
This is one conclusion of a survey conducted by the NRC and research agency Overheid in Nederland among around 700 local civil servants, representative of all parties and from around the country.
Responsibility for home care, youth care and work schemes for the disabled was decentralised at the beginning of this year, accompanied by major budget cuts. The idea is that local councils are better able to assess the needs of the people in their area.
Civil servants from both the coalition and opposition parties told the NRC – without being prompted – that they cannot provide good political control because they are badly informed by their councillors and do not have sight of whether people are being refused necessary care.
Last year, the national audit office said it was completely unclear if the 403 Dutch local councils would be able to cope when residential care responsibilities were handed over to them.
Home affairs minister Ronald Plasterk dismissed the audit office criticisms, saying the handover will be assessed mid-2016.
The NRC research also shows that many civil servants are concerned that it has not been possible to get the disabled back into work in their council area.
Conversations to run through which care services local people need are considered good by some of the respondents, but unhelpful by others because they were conducted by telephone.
The paper concludes that a postcode lottery is underway, in which care services work reasonably in some council areas and badly in others.
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