Woman ordered to repay 7,000 euros in benefits for receiving groceries from her mother
A woman receiving social benefits had to repay over 7,000 euros because her mother occasionally went grocery shopping for her. The case that first occurred in 2015 in the municipality of Wijdemeren (Noord-Holland) is now once again under scrutiny.
The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, received welfare benefits, which almost went in their entirety to the payment of fixed costs. To help her, her mother would go shopping for both of them once a week, according to a statement made by the woman.
Upon the municipality’s discovery of this, they asserted that the woman violated the so-called obligation to provide information. That is, she should have reported receiving groceries from her mother. Wijdemeren calculated the costs for the weekly groceries and ordered the woman to repay 7,039.65 euros.
The woman unsuccessfully appealed to the municipality and then went to court. The court dismissed her appeal. According to the verdict, her mother provided her with monetary benefits that could have been deducted from her welfare if she had complied with her duty to provide information.
This news was followed by many indignant reactions, online and from politicians in The Hague. The municipality saw this as a reason to re-examine the case. “The judge has also proved us right, but not everything that is lawful is also just,” said councilor Rosalie van Rijn. The municipality announced on Monday that it always “looked at the individual circumstances of the people involved.”
The impeccable timing of this case being published right after the childcare subsidy scandal led to vehement criticism in The Hague. Socialist Party leader Lilian Marijnissen and her colleague Peter Kwint write on Twitter that the government has drowned in a desire to regulate. PVV leader Geert Wilders also takes to Twitter, noting that the government has learned “nothing at all” from the childcare subsidy scandal.
Ruim 7000 euro terug moeten betalen omdat je boodschappen krijgt van je moeder.— Lilian Marijnissen (@MarijnissenL) December 28, 2020
Hoe een overheid een monsterlijke machine kan worden die mensen kapot maakt omdat niet het vertrouwen voorop staat maar het wantrouwen.#toeslagenaffaire #participatiewet https://t.co/3UG68xEXBJ
Rosalie van Rijn also points to national politics, saying that “there are many hundreds of such cases in the country. Municipalities are obliged to reclaim these cases, but should that also be necessary in the case of groceries?”
The councilor, therefore, believes that the cabinet and Parliament also have a role to play. “It is very intense and painful to see how the municipality is doing, but somewhere I am glad that Parliament is interfering. They can amend the legislation,” she says.