Nearly €7 billion too much wage support paid to Dutch companies
Dutch companies received nearly 7 billion euros too much wage support from the NOW regulation between March 2020 and March 2021, according to calculations by Follow the Money.
Companies have until 2026 to pay back the excess amount. What they do with that money in the mean time, is up to them. According to Follow the Money, some companies used the money for real estate purchases, or for business acquisitions. Others are leaving it in their accounts untouched.
The government established the NOW regulation to help companies pay their employees' wages during the coronavirus pandemic, in an effort to preserve as many jobs as possible. Companies were given an advance based on the revenue losses they expected to suffer. If they estimated their losses too high, they'll have to pay back some of the NOW support they received. If their losses were bigger than they expected, they'll get more support.
Exactly how high the amount of too much NOW support is, is not yet clear. Last month, three Ministry of Finance officials estimated that about 4.2 billion euros too much was paid out between March and September 2020. They based this on Statistics Netherlands figures on what companies expected to lose, and how much they actually lost. And then they compared those figures with the advance paid out under the first round of NOW support and the second round.
Follow the Money used a similar method, but looked at the first four rounds of NOW support between March 2020 and March 2021. In that year a total of 17.7 billion euros in NOW support was paid out. 7 billion euros will have to be paid back by entrepreneurs who estimated their losses higher than they were, according to Follow the Money.