Wednesday 30 November 2022

Childcare benefits affair recovery operation is ‘stuck’: ombudsman

Ombudsman Reinier van Zutphen Photo: Arenda Oomen

The national ombudsman has called for more resources to be put into assisting people who have raised issues about their childcare benefits with the Dutch tax office.

Tens of thousands of parents were unfairly stamped as fraudsters and had to repay every penny of benefits due to a ‘hard’ approach during the past decade. Dual nationals were apparently subject to extra scrutiny and tax minister Marnix van Rij has admitted institutional racism is a problem in the Dutch tax office.

Although compensation of at least €30,000 has been promised to victims of the government’s mistakes, plus support to help rebuild families scarred by debt and sometimes torn apart, ombudsman Reinier van Zutphen said the process is far too slow.

According to the latest government update, 55,443 parents have asked for their childcare benefits to be reassessed, and 21,725 have had €30,000 compensation for benefits they should rightfully have received in the first place. Some 51,000 people have had a ‘first’ assessment of whether they could have been victimised.

2026

But the ombudsman said that the government needs to invest more resources, since some parents can only look forward to being helped by the UHT help team in 2026.

‘Many parents are tired,’ said Zutphen in a press release. ‘This operation consists of pile upon pile of complicated rules and procedures. This means individual assessments take a lot of time – and a lot of energy put into this recovery system that just isn’t moving.’

According to a parliamentary briefing in April, the government intended to introduce a new law on repairing the damage from the childcare benefits affair before the summer recess.

However, lawyers for victims of the childcare benefit affair such as Eva González Pérez have complained that the tax office is not openly providing documentation as it is legally required to do, even to courts.

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