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 an extra amount of more than €25 million to combat benefit fraud.
Paying for measures to combat fraud involving income-related support
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 government has made the fight against fraud a priority. Measures have been taken 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 carry out additional checks of high-risk applications. This should prevent undue payments that cannot be recovered.
- Fining and punishing deliberate misuse
The scope of finable offences is being widened so that more people can be classified and fined as accessories. The ‘one bank account measure’ has 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 (ANPR). Someone who has to repay 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. Customer service was initially given higher priority than fraud prevention.
The situation changed in 2010 following a number of fraud cases. In its 2013 Tax Plan the government introduced the following anti-fraud measures:
- people who commit benefit fraud a second time have to pay a fine of 150% of the amount they have to repay. 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.