Councils forced to make major spending cuts to pay for youth care services

Dozens of local authorities in the Netherlands say they have to make far-reaching cuts in spending to pay for all the care duties they now have to undertake.

The Volkskrant says libraries are being closed, budgets for road and building maintenance are being cut and less money will go to the arts and culture. In addition, local taxes are also being increased to make up the shortfall.

In particular, youth care services are proving to be more expensive than thought in some two-thirds of the local council areas which took part in the Volkskrant survey.

Local authorities were made responsible for youth care services in 2015 and since then the number of children in contact with youth social services has risen by 12% to over 400,000, the national statistics agency CBS said last week.

The government saw the move as a cost-cutting exercise, in particular because officials hoped potential problems would be spotted earlier and that would require less use of expensive ‘specialist’ help.

What actually happened, the Volkskrant says, is that experts on the ground identified more youngsters who needed help than had been previously identified.

Together, the councils expect to beat their budgets by €600m, the paper said. Health minister Hugo de Jonge has admitted there are issues and will make some extra funding available.

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