People who deliberately apply for benefits or income-related support that they are not entitled to are committing fraud. The Dutch government has set aside more than €25 million to combat benefit fraud.
Measures to combat fraud involving income-related support are funded from taxation. Income-related support includes student finance, social assistance, the employed person's tax credit and the general tax credit.
Combating benefit fraud
The current Rutte-Asscher government has put the fight against fraud at the top of its agenda and has taken measures in the following areas:
Supervision and enforcement
Prevention is more effective than trying to recover money after fraud has been committed. The time limit for making a decision on a benefit application has therefore been extended so that the Tax and Customs Administration can make additional checks of high-risk applications. This should prevent the Administration making undue payments that it cannot recover.
Deliberate misuse fined and punished
Anyone who deliberately provides incorrect or incomplete information will be fined and the scope of finable offences will be widened to include more people who can be classified and fined as accessories. The 'one bank account measure' has also been introduced to prevent people misusing another person's identity in order to receive benefits they are not entitled to on their own bank account.
Recovery of tax and undue payments
Greater cooperation in national fraud projects and data analysis has made it easier to investigate fraudsters. The Tax and Customs Administration, for example, is making more use of automatic number plate recognition. Someone who has to pay back a benefit can be stopped and made to settle the debt on the spot.
Previous measures to combat benefit fraud
People who need income support receive it as soon as possible after making their application. In the past the government proceeded on the basis of trust and checked applications after payment began. Service was initially given higher priority than fraud prevention.
The situation changed in 2010 following a number of fraud cases and the Rutte-Verhagen government introduced anti-fraud measures in its 2013 Tax Plan:
- Since 2013 people committing benefit fraud twice have had to pay fine of 150% of the amount they have to pay back. If necessary, the fine is paid from any benefits still receivable.
- The Tax and Customs Administration stops paying a benefit if the recipient does not respond to a request to declare foreign income.