Extra care tasks forcing Dutch municipalities into budget cuts: report

Child reading in a book store
Child reading in a book storePhoto: Tim Pierce / Wikimedia Commons

Dutch municipalities are forced to make drastic budget cuts in order to cope with additional care tasks that now fall under their responsibility, the Volkskrant reports based on its own research. The shortages are so great that some municipalities are even considering closing libraries or reducing road maintenance, according to the newspaper. 

The responsibility for youth care shifted from the national government to the municipalities in 2015. Dozens of municipalities are exceeding their budgets to be able to take care of the additional care tasks. According to the newspaper, the municipalities fall a total amount of around 600 million euros short. 

Many municipalities are therefore considering drastic steps, like closing libraries or increasing property tax, the association of Dutch municipalities VNG said to the Volkskrant. The municipality of Midden-Delfland is scrapping its budget for events. Goirle is considering reducing the subsidy for the music school. The municipality of Utrechtse Heuvelrug is planning to sell the mayor's home. "While it is not the intention that the citizen is the victim of the  shortages on youth care", spokesperson Angela de Jong said. 

Minister Hugo de Jonge of Public Health, Welfare and Sports acknowledges the problem. He told the newspaper that he is looking for more money.

Since municipalities took over the responsibility for youth care, the number of children and young people in youth care increased by 12 percent, from 380 thousand in 2015 to 428 thousand in 2018, Statistics Netherlands recently reported.