Over 1,100 children taken from homes of benefits scandal victims
Between 2015-2020, 1,115 children were taken from the homes of family members who were later found to be victims of the childcare benefits scandal, according to the CBS, the Dutch national statistics office. The office, known as Statistics Netherlands in Enhlish, carried out the study on behalf of the Ministry of Justice and Security.
In the child benefits scandal, thousands of parents were falsely labeled as fraudsters by the tax authorities. The extra scrutiny was often the result of ethnic profiling, or because one parent was a citizen of more than one country.
This had enormous financial consequences for the innocent parents and their families, who were forced to pay enormous fines and repay childcare subsidies which they were actually entitled to receive. Their access to these benefits was also cut off by authorities.
The organization monitoring the youth care sector in the Netherlands said it is shocked by the high number of children of victimized parents who have been placed out of their homes. "The benefits scandal with all its consequences shows once again the need for a different approach to child and family protection. When problems arise in a family, both children and parents must be helped at an early stage. If we do not do this, it will always be the child who suffers," said board member Arina Kruithof.
SP leader Lilian Marijnissen called it "a horrendous shame". Her party colleague, Peter Kwint, suspects that there are more affected children, because this investigation has only focused on the past five years. He wants a bigger investigation and compensation.
According to independent MP Pieter Omtzigt, who has been vociferously critical of the benefits scandal, this study makes it clear that "the government has completely lost an overview of the consequences of its own policy". He is also indignant that this information only surfaced after repeated attempts, and that it was not shared via a letter to Parliament, but was published by Statistics Netherlands.
The office said it did not know the total number of children taken from homes as the result of the scandal. It was only asked to investigate the specified five-year period.
Denk leader Farid Azarkan said "the conjecture" has now become reality. "The injustice and the suffering caused are beyond comprehension." He said he was disturbed that, to add insult to injury, party leaders Mark Rutte (VVD), Sigrid Kaag (D66), Wopke Hoekstra (CDA) and Gert-Jan Segers are now talking about continuing the coalition under what would be Rutte's fourt Cabinet.
Azarkan said they are all ultimately responsible for the benefits scandal.
Reporting by ANP.