Children hurt in tax office benefits scandal will get compensation
The caretaker Cabinet is allocating 1.3 billion euros to compensate children and the former partners of victims in the scandal surrounding the childcare subsidy program. An amount has also been reserved for people who were mistreated by the tax authorities regarding other subsidies and benefits. The money comes from a 5 billion euro fund that the Cabinet already set aside for compensation.
The State Secretary of Finance, Alexandra van Huffelen, announced the plan after the weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers. The government is giving children of victimized parents priority in the scheme. Depending on their age, they will receive between 2,000 and 10,000 euros. About 95,000 children are expected to qualify for the program.
The regulations should come into effect over the course of next year, but that is still partly dependent on approval by the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Parliament. It also remains to be seen whether the government's intentions are feasible. "In order to really help, the implementation must be well prepared," said Van Huffelen. "That takes time."
Due to a ruthless hunt for fraudsters by the Belastingdienst, the Dutch tax authorities, many thousands of families were unfairly subjected to financial difficulties. At the end of last year, the Cabinet already decided that all affected parents will receive at least 30,000 euros, and that any additional damages will also be reimbursed. Moreover, the victims are released from their outstanding debts, so that they can start over with a clean slate. But the operation has been anything but smooth. Only a very small percentage of all case files were fully completed.
The members of the Tweede Kamer have long wanted children who suffered as a result of these problems to receive compensation. "Children have made it very clear to us that they have also been swindled," she said. "A lot has happened in their lives. They often grew up in poverty, shame. They have all kinds of problems. We would like to give these children a helping hand." For example, there will also be psychological help available for children who need it.
In addition, the Cabinet still wants to help people whose relationships failed under the strain of the benefits scandal, whether or not the scandal was the direct cause of a breakup. Until now, the financial arrangements did not provide assistance for both parents in a broken home. But ex-partners can also suffer from the consequences of the scandal "to this day," she stated. They will also receive an allowance and could possibly get help with other debt. According to Van Huffelen, this concerns a group of approximately 9,000 people.
Since the 30,000 euro scheme was announced, many people have also reported that they have run into problems due to unjustified loss of other benefits, which were then reclaimed by the government in a lump sum. This includes the housing benefit, health care allowance, and the child budget. To compensate this group of an estimated 22,000 people, 76 million euros has been set aside.
Reporting by ANP.