Council sticks by demand for €7,000 repayment for weekly shopping


A local council at the centre of controversy for demanding a women repay €7,000 in welfare benefits because she was given shopping by her mother says it is sticking to its call for the cash to be sent back.

Wijdemeren council near Hilversum hit the headlines after a legal website published details of the case. Commentators said the woman was being punished for accepting groceries, even though the welfare rules state that claimants must tell officials about all extra income.

The council based its claim on an assessment of how much weekly groceries would cost for a single person, according to family spending institute Nibud. The woman herself refused to say how much money her mother spent on her, but said she needed help because of her high living costs.

Following the media attention, the council agreed to look at the case again and now says it will press ahead with its claim for repayment.

The woman has been claiming welfare and supplementary benefits since 2015, but in 2018, officials discovered she was running a car.

An investigation then showed that she had spent barely anything on food and other essential items and that her rent and other household bills were no higher than those of other benefit claimants. She also had an expensive motorbike and had spent time abroad.

Welfare claimants are required to let the council know if they travel outside the Netherlands.

‘Everyone is free to decide what to do with their money, but that should not be at the expense of the items which welfare is meant to cover,’ the council said in a statement.

The woman is currently appealing against a lower court ruling in favour of the council’s claim.

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