Kids unaffected by benefits scandal also receiving thousands in compensation: report
An unknown number of children are receiving thousands of euros in compensation for the benefits scandal, while they were not affected by it at all, NOS reports. They are legally entitled to compensation, but in some cases, they don’t even know the parent who fell victim to the Tax Authority’s fraud witch hunt. And that while many other children who did suffer under the scandal are still waiting for regulations to compensate them, according to the broadcaster.
The Cabinet set up the child scheme, intended for children of victims in the benefits scandal, very generously. The Tax Authority looks at the victim and their partner on 26 January 2021. All of those two persons’ children and foster children are entitled to compensation. The child scheme pays a different amount per age. Kids up to 5 years get 2,000 euros, 6 to 11 get 4,000, 12 to 14 get 6,000, 15 to 17 get 8,000, and 18 years or older get 10,000 euros. The amounts are based on how aware they would have been about their parents’ financial problems resulting from the scandal.
But the benefits scandal, which in many cases led to massive debts as the Tax Authority ordered victimized parents to repay the childcare allowances they received, went on for many years. So looking at a family composition on one day does not accurately reflect which family members struggled during the scandal. In the years the scandal lasted, many victims have separated, remarried, and had new children, including stepchildren and foster children.
NOS spoke to several victims of the childcare allowance scandal who experienced this. At the end of 2020, Sarah married her boyfriend, who had three children from a previous relationship. He and Sarah are now separated. But because of that brief marriage, his three children are automatically entitled to compensation. “But they never lived with us permanently and never experienced any of my debts,” Sarah said. “Yet they get a total of 28,000 euros because I happened to be married to their father.”
Sarah has no problem with her ex’s kids getting compensation, but it does bother her that they received it before her kids. “They receive a higher amount and also receive it earlier than my own children. My foster children, who went through the difficult times of the benefits scandal, still have to wait for months,” she said.
Another mother had a similar experience. “My partner’s previous relationship ended when his son was one year old. He and his son didn’t see each other again until he was 16, so his son never lived with us or was aware of the situation,” she said to the broadcaster. Although she only saw the boy once, he will get 10,000 euros before her children see compensation. “I had to hear that from the service team. I asked them to stop the payout. But they said they couldn’t because it’s the law.”
Another woman’s partner has not seen his children in years. But thanks to his relationship with her, they are entitled to money. What she finds most annoying is that after years of shame, stress, and fear, her partner’s ex will soon receive a letter telling her that the children will get money because she is a victim. “I live in a place where everyone knows each other, so I don’t like that at all.”
At the same time, her ex-husband’s stepchildren are not entitled to the child scheme, even though they lived with him when he had to pay off debts. They have to wait for the government to figure out what to do about ex-partners.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Finance told the broadcaster that about 90,000 children are entitled to the child scheme. The Ministry could not say how many were unaffected by the benefits scandal. The Ministry opted for a generous and broad scheme in order to compensate victims quickly. “It is not possible to check individually with all children whether they experienced the consequences of the benefits scandal directly or indirectly,” the spokesperson said. “That would not only take a very long time, but it also does not fit with the children and parliament’s wishes to come to a quick and generous settlement.”
The government is working on compensation schemes for affected kids who don’t qualify for the child scheme because, for example, their parents are separated or because they are foster children in an affected household.