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Full-scale parliamentary inquiry into child benefits scandal


February 11, 2021 - By Senay Boztas
A full-scale parliamentary enquiry is to be held into how thousands of innocent parents could have been accused of child benefit fraud.
Last month, the entire Dutch government resigned as a gesture intended to show responsibility for the scandal, which labelled at least 10,000 people as ‘fraudsters’, causing some to lose their jobs, marriages, health and homes, due to the smallest mistakes in filling out child benefit forms.
Last year, a small-scale parliamentary enquiry found that an ‘unprecedented injustice’ had been done, leading to a pledge to refund these families with at least €30,000 each in compensation. Mark Rutte, acting as caretaker prime minister until a general election in March, also promised an overhaul of the elephantine Dutch benefits system and more openness in government.

The Dutch Government's Benefits Scandal Is Rooted in Stigma Against Welfare Recipients - International Viewpoint


The Netherlands
Sunday 24 January 2021, by Kevyn Levie
Last Friday, the Dutch government had to resign in scandal, after thousands of parents were wrongly accused of making fraudulent childcare benefit claims. The affair was driven by racist demonization of welfare recipients deeply rooted in the country’s politics.
At least 26,000 families on the verge of bankruptcy, in more debt than they could repay in their entire lives. Countless people losing their homes, jobs, or partners. And one parent committing suicide after they were ordered to repay tens of thousands of euros. These were the effects of an extremely strict anti-fraud policy carried out by the Dutch tax administration for years — sparking a scandal over which the government led by Mark Rutte resigned last Friday.

Dutch government falls as deaths mount in COVID-19 pandemic


Dutch government falls as deaths mount in COVID-19 pandemic
On January 15, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced his government’s resignation ahead of national elections scheduled for March 17. He will head a caretaker government until then.
Rutte claimed that his resignation aimed to redress the wrong committed in a 2013-2019 welfare scandal, where the Dutch state falsely accused 26,000 parents of dual-national families of welfare fraud, improperly forcing them to pay back tens of thousands of euros in child benefit. “With this decision, the government wants to do justice to all those parents who have been unprecedentedly wronged,” Rutte said. “The rule of law should protect citizens from the all-powerful government, and that has gone horribly wrong here.”

The childcare benefits scandal: voices of the victims


Photo: Joep Poulssen
Kristie Rongen says she is a pitbull who bites and won’t let go.
This 45-year-old from Lelystad is one of 20 families who have started a court case accusing five senior politicians of criminal negligence for their role in failing to prevent a childcare benefits scandal that has driven thousands to financial ruin. She believes and hopes that the repercussions mean that today the cabinet will fall.
‘What we parents want is that Rutte steps down and doesn’t come back,’ she says. ‘He is the head of the line, he let the ball drop, he attacked my children and they are still doing it. It is a scandal.’

Compensating duped parents is a priority, Rutte says, after cabinet resignation

Compensating duped parents is a priority, Rutte says, after cabinet resignation

Renske Leijten: 'Warning signs deliberately ignored in tax office scandal'

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Renske Leijten in an earlier debate on the child benefits system. Photo: ANP/Phil Nijhuis
The most galling thing about the childcare benefit scandal, says Renske Leijten, is that it happened in plain sight. Rank and file civil servants were aware that the tax service’s dragnet anti-fraud strategy was having devastating consequences for the parents who became entangled in it, but their warnings went unheeded.
Leijten, a Socialist Party MP, has been one of the most prominent campaigners in politics for the wronged families, along with her Christian Democrat colleague Pieter Omtzigt. The recent parliamentary investigative committee hearings on the scandal have laid bare how frequently and, she argues, systematically, the red flags were missed.

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