The Dutch government has claimed more than €700,000 from asylum seekers in the last four years in contributions towards their living costs.
The cash was collected by the refugee settlement agency COA under a regulation that has been in force since 2008.
The AD reported that the amount reclaimed was €177,000 in 2013 and €178,000 in 2014, as well as a provisional €137,000 last year. Figures on the COA’s website showed that €221,000 was collected in 2012, making a total of €713,000.
The Regulation for Personal Contributions by Asylum Seekers allows the state to charge asylum seekers for their food and living costs – €196 a month – if they earn more than €185 a week.
Deductions are also made from any savings or possessions they have above a threshold of €5,895 for a single person and €11,790 for a family. Exceptions are made for personal items such as watches, wedding rings and mobile phones, the regulations show.
It is unclear how much money was claimed from refugees who arrived in the Netherlands with cash assets or how many refugees have paid towards their upkeep. The Dutch justice ministry declined to comment when contacted by DutchNews.nl.
Cash and valuables
Most of the money was reclaimed from the income of working refugees, a spokesman for the COA told Elsevier. Asylum seekers are allowed to work for up to 24 weeks a year once they have been in the country longer than six months.
Junior justice minister Klaas Dijkhoff said on Friday there were no plans to take cash and valuables from refugees at the border, as has been proposed in Denmark and the German states of Bavaria and Badem-Württemburg.
‘That’s not something I say we should be doing here too,’ said Dijkhoff. ‘We’ve organised it in a different way.’
In 2014, the total bill dealing with asylum seekers came to €860m, according to government figures.
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