Unemployment fraud by migrant workers gets too little priority, Minister says
The approach to unemployment benefit fraud by migrant workers does not have the "necessary urgency", Minister Wouter Koolmees of Social Affairs wrote in a letter to the Tweede Kamer following reports by Nieuwsuur about large-scale fraud committed by labor migrants from Poland.
According to Nieuwsuur, many Polish migrant workers use fake signatures, fake job applications and fake addresses to collect thousands of euros in unemployment benefits in the Netherlands, while they are actually working or holidaying in Poland. The news agency also found that these migrant workers are assisted by intermediaries who advertise themselves online as accountants or administrative offices, but in fact give advice on how to circumvent inspections by benefits agency UWV.
UWV employees are aware of this fraud, but are discouraged from addressing it, UWV employees told Nieuwsuur. They are mainly expected to make quick decisions about unemployment benefits. Investigating suspected fraud takes a lot of time and manpower, which benefit experts do not have, sources from inside the UWV said to the news agency.
Due to the financial crisis and resulting budget cuts at both the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment and the UWV, the priority has been to keep service up to standard, Koolmees said in his letter to parliament, NOS reports. The Ministry looked mainly at "overall abuse figures".
"Fraud with benefits is unacceptable", Koolmees said. "It undermines the support of our social security system. I therefore agreed with the UWV that we will tackle this more intensively." To do so, the UWV will better monitor whether someone is really in the Netherlands to look for work. There will also be more personal contact with benefit recipients and better registration of intermediaries. This involves unemployment benefits, but also sickness and disability benefits.