The proposals for amendments to the social assistance fine represent a slight improvement for the “social assistance fraudsters”. Lawyers are also somewhat positive. At the same time, they don’t go far enough and many problems will still arise, says the National Council of Clients about work and income.
Majority of the House of Representatives say there is now widespread support for a fine adjustment and help from the fraudsters should be changed. The CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie coalition parties today launched two different solutions.
Ama Asante of the National Clients Council calls it “the beginning”: “No matter how beautiful these initiatives are, they ignore the essence of the problem. It might help a little, but the problem that you cannot overcome in terms of luxury will remain. It forces people to seek help from friends, acquaintances and relatives. “
The law requires social assistance recipients to report gifts and income. This alleged obligation to provide information is strict: according to the law, the municipality should seek help if you receive something as a gift or earn extra money, but do not report it.
For example, Raïsa (last name known to the editors) was fined and restored because she did not report help from her father. “My kids started playing kickboxing,” says the single mother. “Since the Youth Fund only pays membership fees, my father has transferred money to buy sportswear, boxing gloves and protection.” “This is one of the sums for which I was fined. After nearly a year of paying the fine and recovering it.”
“The law is very strict because of the Bulgarian fraud that happened a few years ago,” explains lawyer Thomas Sanders of AKD Benelux Lawyers. In 2013, it was revealed that fraudsters were bringing Bulgarians to the Netherlands. They had to register with the municipality and open a bank account so that the fraudsters could apply for benefits on their behalf and thus defraud the state.
“Everyone was very angry about that, and then this legislation was written. The idea was:“ Anyone who does not report something has something to hide. ”But that of course is not the case: People make mistakes, and that was not taken into account at the time. Stay. “
That sentiment has now shifted, in part due to the childcare allowance issue. In 2013 the CDA, ChristenUnie, and D66 voted in favor of the current Participation Act; Meanwhile, coalition parties are interfering with proposals to reform the law. “There should be room for groups to be more compassionate,” ChristenUnie explained Radio 1 Journal.
This party wants to abolish the mandatory fine for social assistance fraudsters. D66 and CDA suggest to keep the fine, but to make refunds of prepaid assistance optional.
“The proposal from the CDA and the D66 is a lot like soccer scare,” says Sanders. “Then you get that the lady in Wijdemeren doesn’t have to pay thousands of euros, but she still gets a fine. That doesn’t sound very reasonable to me. ChristenUnie’s proposal offers a good perspective in this regard because the mandatory fine is removed.”
There are now also exceptions where restoration is not mandatory. But this threshold is high. “There must be unacceptable financial or social consequences,” explains Sanders. “Being on the street alone is not enough; just going out on the street when you are seriously ill, for example, is an” urgent cause. ” The amendment proposed by the House of Representatives will now give municipalities, as well as judges, more room to deviate.
Between 2013 and 2018, there were nearly 6,000 rulings by administrative judges regarding the recovery of the Participation Act. About 95 percent of the cases were mandatory recoveries for breaching the duty to provide information.
Of all the people who appealed to the court for an exception, 772 in all, none were successful. “On appeal, the attorney reduced the fine and recovered, but I still had to pay it,” says Rayes. “Last year I paid about 52 euros a month. I can really feel it: I usually do my shopping for about a week.”
If people entitled to social assistance report additional earnings and gifts, municipalities now have room to be merciful. How this is handled varies by municipality.
In Amsterdam, for example, you can get gifts up to 1,200 euros a year. “On Christmas, I received money from my younger brother for a Christmas gift for my daughter. Then I immediately called the municipality,” says Rice. Nevertheless, she still found it exciting: “I feel like you are under the microscope. The lady of the municipality I spoke to knows nothing about it; the municipality will call me back in two days. Five days have passed and I haven’t heard anything yet. I’ll call again on Monday. Just to be sure. I’m just afraid to accept help. “
Rather than just more room for exceptions, Asante would like to see a general change. “You can increase the benefit of social assistance. But it is also beneficial that the government automatically pays for all the extras that the minimum can help. Now these additions are often behind the forms and complex application procedures. The whole system scares people.” Soon I’ll make a mistake, “We hear a lot.