Saturday 19 October 2019

Benefit agency’s old systems lead to prisoners getting social security

Photo: UWV

Hundreds of people serving jail time in Dutch prisons have been wrongly receiving social security benefits, according to research by current affairs show Nieuwsuur.

People in jail do not have the right to unemployment and invalidity benefit and it is technically up to the prisoners themselves to inform the authorities, although not everyone does so.

The prison system also briefs the UWV jobs agency about who is facing jail time, and it is here where mistakes are made, Nieuwsuur said. The registration system is using an old database and software and many people are slipping through the net.

In one case, a convicted drugs dealer had to pay back €102,000 in incapacity benefit (WAO) which he had been wrongly paid. In another case, a man who served 19 months in jail had to repay €24,0000.

‘My client was registered as being in prison, so the UWV should have known he was in jail,’ the lawyer told Nieuwsuur. ‘They make mistake after mistake and now my client has to pay the bill.’

A spokesman for the UWV said its own research had shown that the system is not foolproof and it is investigating further.

The Nieuwsuur revelations are the latest in a string of problems uncovered at the benefit payment agency. In February RTL Nieuws reported that 1,900 people had illegally been awarded WAO benefits for life in order to get rid of the waiting list for follow-up health checks.

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