Dutch minister vows to stamp out benefit Scams
by FFE EU News Staff
Social Benefit fraud has been rocking the Dutch news since the middle of 2013. Back in June, the ‘Bulgarian fraud’ was exposed which involved roughly €87m in fake claims by scammers. To address the growing issue, Home Affairs minister Ronald Plasterk has pledged €4.6m for distribution to local authorities.
Media speculations about the widespread practice of social benefit fraud were fuelled when the town council of Bronckhorst in Gelderland revealed that they received 100 cases in one year. One trick used by scammers was for new fathers to claim that they had left their partners and to write themselves out of the home they used to live in with their partner. Their ‘single’ partners can then claim more than double the original social benefit as single parents while the father continues to live with them, even if on paper he is not living there anymore.
Bronckhorst mayor Fred de Graaf said that the scandal in their town involved ‘huge sums of money.’ The national citizen’s affairs council NVVB added that social benefit fraud, which include housing, healthcare and child benefits, is common in the country.
NVVB deputy chairman Simon Rijsdijk said the council does not have any concrete figures yet. But he added that fraud can easily be checked by conducting personal visits to claimants’ homes.
Junior finance minister Frans Weekers is also helping address the Bronckhorst scandal by talking to larger local authorities on ways to tackle fraud in the social security benefit system. But he said that the issue is primarily within the Home Affairs’ jurisdiction since the latter deals with local authority registrations.
Home Affairs minister Plasterk meanwhile said the cabinet is doing everything it can to address the issue. The €4.6m fund will be used to combat fraud by helping councils organise their citizen’s registration systems and by training civil servants in fraud awareness.