Over 60,000 people living below the poverty line are not claiming top-up benefits because they are not aware they can, or the paperwork is too complicated, the labour inspectorate said in a new report.
The people concerned are already on benefits, for instance because they are unemployed or unfit for work for health reasons. Two out of three disabled youngsters entitled to extra benefits fail to claim them, the inspectorate found.
In the most problematic cases, people on benefits find themselves 80% below the minimum income. The UWV benefits agency told the inspectorate “privacy reasons” stood in the way of actively informing people of their right to an extra benefit.
In addition, the word toeslag in the name Toeslagenwet is stopping people from claiming because it conjures up fears of having to pay everything back, as happened to thousands of people caught up in the childcare benefit scandal, UWV staff told the inspectorate.
The figures do not include pensioners who have not lived long enough in the Netherlands to be entitled to a full state pension and are also entitled to top-up benefits.
The inspectorate said that the agency could help people if it were to have access to information, such as the income of a partner, which is currently covered by privacy rules.
Better information about the conditions for claiming extra benefits from the UWV would also help. At the moment information provided online is scarce and difficult to find, the inspectorate said.
UWV chairman Maarten Camps said the agency had already asked the social affairs ministry to simplify the rules and change the name of the top-up benefit law.
People who live on social security benefits are short of hundreds of euros every month, an independent commission wrote in June this year.
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