Wednesday 08 December 2021

Ministers ‘shocked’ by latest childcare benefit scandal revelations

Photo: Joep Poulssen

Ministers are looking into claims by national statistics agency CBS that over 1,100 children were put into care after their parents were wrongly accused of making fraudulent childcare benefit claims by the tax office.

Prime minister Mark Rutte has described the the claims as ‘very worrying’ and justice minister Sander Dekker said in a briefing to MPs that officials are now looking into the option of revising the placement orders which are still in operation, based on an assessment of individual cases.

Dekker also admitted that the consequences of the scandal, and the mounting financial problems it caused, may have led to a situation in which ‘the authorities eventually needed to place the children elsewhere’.

It is not clear from the CBS figures how much the fraud allegations contributed to social worker intervention and the removal of children.

Nevertheless, the CBS figures cover the period 2015 to 2020 and the real total may be far higher, given the scandal dates back much longer and not all parents have yet come forward, Dekker said.

Botched

Socialist party MP Peter Kwint described the ministerial reaction as a ‘botched job’. ‘There was nothing in Dekker’s letter that we did not already know and nothing about extra help for the parents,’ he said.

Independent MP Pieter Omtzigt, who campaigned on behalf of the affected families, described the cabinet letter as both brief and cautious. ‘It raises more questions which we will ask the government,’ he said.

The cabinet has agreed to give €30,000 in compensation to families affected by the scandal but the compensation process has become bogged down in procedural delays and is taking far longer than officials had promised.

Some 50,000 children are thought to be part of families affected by the scandal.

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