The new chairman of the fundamentalist Christian party SGP has been claiming the special civil service unemployment benefit alongside his salary for 12 years, the Volkskrant reported on Friday.
Peter Zevenbergen is the paid director of a college in Rotterdam but his salary is below his earnings as an alderman in Alblasserdam, a post he held up to 2006. This means, by law, that he can claim the difference from the taxpayer.
The 62-year-old currently claims €1,450 extra a month from Alblasserdam council under the wachtgeld system and can continue to claim this amount until he retires, the paper said. He was entitled to such a generous package because he was alderman for 10 years and was over the age of 50.
The question was raised in Alblasserdam council four years ago and the mayor made a moral appeal to Zevenbergen to stop the claims, the Volkskrant says.
But the SGP chairman says on the party’s website that he is acting ‘in line with the letter and the spirit of the wachtgeld ruling’.
Phasing out or stopping the extra payments now is not an option because the rules mean he would have to pay back the entire amount, the statement said. Nevertheless, he has now asked independent experts to look into the issue.
MPs, ministers and local council officials who lose their job are entitled to 80% of their salary for one year under the wachtgeld system. Subsequent payments which can last up to retirement age, are made at the 70% rate.
Former politicians who get a job which does not pay as much as being an MP, alderman or minister can claim top-up benefits, as Zevenberg has done.
In May it emerged that one former MP has been claiming benefits for over 16 years while one former junior minister has been given €465,000 in payments over five years.
In total 178 MPs, 18 ministers and 15 junior ministers had claimed wachtgeld, over the past five years, averaging €93,000 each.
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