Council bill for jobless aldermen tops €126m in five years


Dutch local councils have spent €126m over the past five years on special unemployment benefits for former aldermen, according to research by current affairs show EenVandaag.

In total, 1,500 aldermen received the civil service benefit known as wachtgeld after losing their jobs when councils changed political colour or because they were not reappointed.

Lelystad, with a total bill of €1.8m, topped the list of big payers, the research, involving 297 councils, found. In 10 local authority areas no benefits were paid out at all.

Oude IJsselstreek and Eindhoven also had bills of over €1m. The biggest payout – €510,000 – went to a former alderman from Capelle aan den IJssel.

The aldermen’s association Wethoudersvereneging said it is concerned that employers are reluctant to take on people who have served as local council officials because of fears they can no longer accept not being in a position of authority.

But it cautioned against calls to cut the benefit, arguing that would make the role of alderman less attractive.

Aldermen who lose their jobs are entitled to 80% of their salary for one year. Subsequent payments, which can last several years, are made at 70% rate. Former aldermen who get a lower-paid job can also claim top-up benefits.

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