Alexandra is an Australian citizen and an experienced expat, having spent (quite a bit of) time in A...
Benefit fraud a serious problem in the Netherlands12 December 2013, by Alexandra Gowling
Many Dutch people are registering with their municipality using a false address in order to claim more in benefits, an investigation by RTL Nieuws has revealed.
According to the Dutch Association of Civil Affairs (NVVB), fraud relating to healthcare allowance and rent and childcare benefits is common.
One small municipality in Gelderland, Bronkhorst, is sounding the alarm: they have had 100 cases of fraud in one year.
Common benefit frauds
In Bronkhorst, it has become more common for young fathers to unregister from the address they share with their partner and children and re-register back at their parents’ address.
The young family is now no longer a household in the eyes of the administration, but as a single mother on a lower income. She is given more money in benefits, yet they still live together as a family.
The NVVB has more examples from across the Netherlands, where children are registered at a different address to where they actually live, and even children who have been enrolled who not exist.
Benefit fraud amounts
Taking a generic example, an average family with two children and a rental house is given 350 euros a month in healthcare allowance and rent and childcare benefits.
If the main breadwinner in the family does not live there on paper, then the lower earning spouse is seen as a single person with a low income. He or she will then receive 850 euros a month in benefits.
According to the Mayor of Bronkhorst, this is no small beer. "If you look at how much is paid in benefits, it involves large amounts."
Bronkhorst finds out hundreds of fraudsters every year, but they expect their actual number to be much higher. NVVB has seen the numbers increase every year since the introduction of this benefit system in 2006.
Speaking for the Dutch government, the State Secretary of Finance Frans Weekers said he was in talks with major municipalities to address benefit fraud. The majority of Parliament wants measures to be taken quickly and Weekers to come up with a plan as soon as possible.
One proposal is that the government needs to ensure that the Tax Office and the Municipal Administration (GBA) are working together earlier and not only when suspicion arises.
Another plan by the government, to replace the different benefits with one household benefit, is not a good solution, according to MP Pieter Omtzigt.
"We think that they rushed to do this and that the pieces will be very large if they introduce it without first looking at what can go wrong and what is going wrong at the moment."
Source: RTL Nieuws