The Dutch system for paying extra childcare, housing and healthcare benefits to low income households needs to be overhauled, but this will be a job for the next cabinet, junior finance minister Alexandra van Huffelen told MPs on Monday.
Van Huffelen, who took over at the ministry in February when Menno Snel resigned because of the childcare benefit scandal, has drawn up a raft of proposals for reforming the system but said she will not start the process of implementing change before the general election in March.
In total, Van Huffelen has drawn up a list of 28 proposals to make the current system less complex and easier to use. Free childcare, higher wages, rent cuts and a ‘rigorous’ overhaul of the entire tax system to reduce the number of benefits, discounts and deductions are among the suggestions being made.
‘We cannot go on making things a bit more simple here and there,’ she said. ‘You want a system that works for the people it is aimed at, and which does not lead to frustration and the major problems which the childcare benefit created.’
Some seven million households in the Netherlands receive one or more benefit, with the total payouts amounting to €15bn over the course of a year. Benefits are income based, but people who earn more than they expected have to pay the excess back at the end of the year.