Municipalities granted right to prior consultation on protective guardians from 1 January 2021

People with problematic debts will receive better assistance with effect from 1 January 2021 because municipalities may advise the court on solutions, such as protective guardians (also referred to as ‘schuldenbewind’ in Dutch, i.e. debt administration) or municipal debt assistance from that date onwards. This has been made possible by a law put forward by Minister for Legal Protection Sander Dekker, also on behalf of the State Secretary for Social Affairs and Employment Bas van ’t Wout, which was recently adopted by the Senate.

Minister Dekker:

'People with problematic debts can use all the help offered, now especially. Good cooperation between courts, municipalities and administrators is conducive to finding the most appropriate form of assistance. We are therefore helping people to put their lives back on track faster.'

Helping people with problematic debts

People with problematic debts can receive assistance from a protective guardian, where an administrator manages their finances and stabilises the situation. A protective guardian is a drastic measure. Municipalities can also assist people by offering less rigorous forms of assistance.

The new law provides that municipalities may advise the court three months after a protective guardian has been appointed on whether the best way of helping a resident is to continue the debt administration service or to provide a less rigorous form of municipal assistance. This will enable municipalities to fulfil their directive role in debt assistance more effectively, which is conducive to cooperation between courts, municipalities and administrators.

Furthermore, the law provides that a protective guardian may only be appointed for a certain period. In this way, we are contributing to ensuring that the assistance of a protective guardian does not take any longer than necessary.

Government action plan for tackling debt

The new law emanates from the coalition agreement. It forms part of the government-wide Action Plan for Tackling Debt Comprehensively. The aim is to provide better assistance to people in debt and to reduce the number of people with problematic debts.