Amsterdam to reassess benefits fraud fines

Arjan Vliegenthart
Amsterdam's Alderman for Work, Income and Participation, Arjan Vliegenthart (photo: City of Amsterdam). (Amsterdam's Alderman for Work, Income and Participation, Arjan Vliegenthart (photo: City of Amsterdam))

The municipality of Amsterdam will soon be reassessing 467 fine decisions on benefit fraud. This means that Amsterdam residents who received a fine for benefit fraud in 2013 and 2014, may receive a windfall.

The college of the D66, SP and VVD believe this reassessment is necessary after the administrative court ruled in November last year that the Fraud Act in 2013 did not take culpability into account, NRC reports. The question of whether people deliberately or inadvertently failed to meet their obligation to provide information hardly played a role in the decision to issue fines. People were often given a 100 percent fine on top of repayment of overpaid benefits, whether or not they were deliberately in the wrong.

According to NRC, the cost of the reassessment operation will be around 100 thousand euros. The total cost could reach up to 1 million euros.

Amsterdam alderman of Social Affairs Arjan Vliegenthart (SP), informed the city council about the reassessment operation on Monday. In an opinion piece written on behalf of 13 aldermen from other cities, he wrote that it "would adorn the government if they would pay that amount". "It is after all the government that is responsible for the Fraud Act."

According to the alderman, it is unacceptable that the Fraud Act punished defaulters and deceivers equally severely until November last year. "Intentions matter in the law. For that reason there is a difference in sentencing between murder and manslaughter. The law is not a computer schedule, but an area where judges judge, they interpret by definition." he said to NRC.

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