Wednesday, 7 May 2014 - 15:01
Amsterdam still fighting to recover benefits errors; 150 refuse payback
The municipality of Amsterdam is conducting magisterial procedures to recover the excess living benefits paid out last year through a Service Tax blunder. Dozens of thousands of Amsterdam residents received big amounts of money through this mistake, and now 152 households are refusing to pay back, het Parool reports. These 152 households collectively owe €1 million. They may be taken to court if necessary. If the judge decides that the money can be taken back by force, then personal items may also be seized, a spokesperson for the municipality says. Of the €1.1 million that these households have to pay back, only 44,000 has actually been recovered. Magisterial procedures are part of the settlement of the blunder that the Service Tax made last year. That service, which is now under strict surveillance, transferred €188 million instead of €1.88 million in living allowances at the end of last year. A simple clerical error. Almost 10,000 Amsterdam residents received unexpected amounts on their accounts. Some even got €34,500. The municipality lost no time trying to retrieve the money. Since then, €186.1 million of the €188 million is back in the treasury, but €2.3 million is still at large. Some households have arranged a payment schedule with the municipality, and still owe almost 200,000. Another group of households simply cannot afford a payment schedule, because they used the money to pay off debts. This group is still good for almost €1 million. The municipality has arranged so-called 'friendly collection procedures' with these households, whereby the municipality checks regularly to ascertain when the household is ready to start paying back. One person has died since the benefits error, and is therefore not paying back. The municipality is expecting to have to cut their losses with €1.2 million of the €188 million, this loss is found in the damage that was caused by the solving of the problem. Improving the situation at the Service Tax is expected to cost a further €1 million.