Childcare scandal compensation may cost €14 billion: NOS

A demonstration last year on behalf of families involved in the childcare benefits scandal. Photo:

Compensation for the victims of the childcare benefit scandal may go up by another €5 billion to a total of €14 billion, according to a finance ministry memo leaked to broadcaster NOS.

The scandal, which brought down the government in 2021, involved over 50,000 Dutch parents who were incorrectly accused of fraud and unjustly ordered to pay back thousands of euros in childcare benefits by the Dutch tax office.

Between 2004 and 2019, parents had their childcare benefits stopped and were ordered to repay every penny ever received, sometimes due to the smallest mistakes.

Over 1,600 children whose parents were caught up in the scandal were removed from their homes by social workers. Marriages broke up and people lost their homes. The tax office also admitted that 11,000 people were subjected to extra scrutiny because they had dual nationality.

Initially thought to be no higher than €500 million, compensation claims soon mounted to €9 billion. The extra €5 billion is a result of a more generous method devised by a charity founded by princess Laurentien, which has resulted in an average €128,000 in compensation for duped families, on top of other compensation that is due them.

The princess founded an association with the parents called Stichting Gelijkwaardig Herstel (equitable repair) to speed up the compensation process which has become bogged down in bureaucratic tax office rules.

The new method allows parents to tell their story and a compensation amount is worked out, based on standard elements such as a divorce caused by stress.

The finance ministry declined to comment, NOS said, but a spokeswoman for junior finance minister Aukje de Vries, who gave the method the go-ahead as part of a large-scale pilot, said the project will be “evaluated by the cabinet shortly”.

However, sources close to the ministry told the broadcaster that the project has gone beyond the pilot stage.

The foundation maintains it is conducting a pilot and that just 100 people have been compensated using the method, which it says “does justice to families who have been wronged”. Based on the work done so far it is too early to talk of a total amount, a spokesman said.

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