Gov't will only force recovery of unjustly paid benefits up to 5 years later, not 20
The Dutch government is becoming more lenient when recovering unjustly paid benefits like unemployment, state pension, or social assistance. From now on, the government can only reclaim that money up to five years after the unjust payment, instead of the previous 20, Ministers Karien van Gennip (Social Affairs) and Carola Schouten (Poverty Policy) wrote to parliament, the Volkskrant reports.
According to the Ministers, they are changing the way benefits are checked and mistakes, whether intentional or accidental, are sanctioned. Up to now, the guiding principle was distrust. Now the government will assume “that most people want to do the right thing,” they said. “It is based on trust,” with the human dimension always coming first.
Recovering benefits up to 20 years after they were unjustly paid places a massive burden on citizens’ shoulders, the Ministers said. “They must be able to demonstrate that they were entitled to the benefit after a long time.” They want the government to share some of that burden.
The lower maximum term may benefit some fraudsters, the Ministers acknowledged. “Given that most people are of goodwill and do not intentionally abuse the system, we believe that the system should reflect this and not go out of its way to chase a (very) small group. If the offense is so serious that it is socially disruptive, it will be transferred to the Public Prosecution Service and further prosecuted and punished under criminal law.”
The Ministers will also make it easier for the benefits agency UWV or the social security bank SVB to stop a benefit if the recipient can’t be reached. “This can lead to misuse of government money because someone is wrongly receiving benefits, and continuing to pay the benefit can lead to increasingly higher recoveries and fines.”
They are also working on a new debtor policy in which the UWV and SVB can agree on a personal payment arrangement appropriate to the circumstances of the person who received too much. “People must have a perspective on the end of the debt and be able to start with a clean slate. Partly for this reason, the opportunity has been created to cooperate in an amicable debt settlement.”